On Aug. 11, 2011, one U.S. citizen and one lawful permanent resident, held by law enforcement agencies (LEAs), filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Represented by private counsel and the National Immigrant Justice Center, plaintiffs sued the Department of Homeland Security, including its component, U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Both plaintiffs were detained by LEAs on criminal charges and held based on ICE detainers. Plaintiffs alleged that ICE did not have legal authority to issue immigration detainers in such circumstances.
Plaintiffs argued that ICE’s assertion of authority to instruct federal, state, and local LEAs to continue the detention of individuals was a violation of ICE’s statutory authority under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 706(2)(A), the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq., and the Fourth, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments. Plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief.
The case was assigned to Judge John Z. Lee. During the course of litigation, ICE had rescinded plaintiffs’ detainers. On Nov. 30, 2012, Judge Lee issued an order denying defendants’ motion to dismiss. Judge Lee found that plaintiffs had standing because detainers had been issued on them at the time they filed their complaint; and that plaintiffs’ claim was not moot when filed, because they did not know how long the detainers would last, and because plaintiff’s proposed class would likely be subject to the same uncertainty.
Plaintiffs had moved for class certification, but Judge Lee denied the motion without prejudice on Feb. 14, 2013, on the grounds that the motion was premature.
Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on May 1, 2013. This complaint added a habeas petition. Plaintiffs then re-filed their class certification motion on June 21, 2013, and Judge Lee on Sept. 30, 2014 granted it in part, toward any current or future individual in the Chicago Area of Responsibility whom ICE ordered LEAs to detain in excess of their authority without presenting charging documents.
On Aug. 2, 2013, defendants had filed a motion for partial summary judgment on plaintiffs’ INA and Tenth Amendment claims. On Sept. 29, 2014, Judge Lee granted the motion regarding the Tenth Amendment and denied it toward the INA claims.
Some efforts were made to settle the case, but they didn't pan out. Instead, plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on the INA claims on Dec. 11, 2015, and defendants moved on Dec. 31, 2015 to decertify the plaintiff class.
On Sept. 30, 2016, Judge Lee granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and denied defendants’ motion to decertify the plaintiff class. Judge Lee agreed with plaintiffs’ statutory claim that, under the INA and APA, ICE exceeded its authority by issuing detainers with no warrant and no determination that subjects were likely to escape before a warrant could be obtained. Judge Lee did not however reach plaintiffs’ constitutional claims. Furthermore, Judge Lee ruled against decertifying the plaintiff class, because ICE continued to issue warrantless detainers on individuals in the class.
Defendants then moved to stay Judge Lee’s Sept. 30, 2016 judgment pending its decision whether or not to appeal. Judge Lee granted this motion on Oct. 7. Apparently the government decided against appeal, however, and on Nov. 28, 2016, Judge Lee issued a judgment. First, Judge Lee declared null and void the detainers already issued on the plaintiffs and the plaintiff class. Next, Judge Lee ordered defendants to promptly provide notice of the judgment to every LEA that might have housed a member of the plaintiff class, and in 30 days to report to the court the status of defendants’ compliance. Finally, Judge Lee permanently enjoined defendants from issuing detainers from their Chicago Field Office (which oversees the area of responsibility consisting of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky, and Kansas), except where defendants had probable cause that the individual was a removable noncitizen, as well as either had obtained a warrant or had reason to believe that the individual would escape before a warrant could be obtained. The court then terminated the case on Nov. 28, 2016.
However, on Dec. 27, 2016, plaintiffs moved to alter or amend the judgment. Plaintiffs saw the judgment as too narrow to protect plaintiffs or the class from continued and future injury. Plaintiffs asked the court to expand the scope of injunction beyond just the Chicago Field Office, because ICE continued to issue detainers elsewhere. Additionally, plaintiffs asked the court to narrow the permitted exception to the injunction, requiring that defendants both obtain and serve (not simply obtain) a warrant in order to issue a detainer.
Judge Lee held a Jan. 11, 2017 hearing on plaintiffs’ Dec. 27, 2016 motion. At the hearing, he denied plaintiffs’ request regarding class certification, though he explained his reasoning only in the hearing and not in a written opinion. Judge Lee then ordered defendants to respond to the other part of plaintiffs’ motion, which they did on Jan. 25, 2017. Finally, on Feb. 14, 2017, Judge Lee denied plaintiffs’ motion entirely. Addressing the second part of the motion, he rejected plaintiffs’ request to require ICE to serve warrants before issuing detainers, finding that no authority supported this service requirement.
This case is now closed. Jennifer Bronson - 11/03/2013
Allison Hight - 01/08/2016
Ava Morgenstern - 03/09/2017