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Case Name Castro v. Freeman IM-TX-0033
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-00208 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
On September 7, 2009, U.S. citizens who were detained when crossing from Mexico into Texas filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), challenging the procedures used by the ... read more >
On September 7, 2009, U.S. citizens who were detained when crossing from Mexico into Texas filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), challenging the procedures used by the Customs and Border Protections (CBP). Plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Refugio del Rio Grande and Jones & Crane, claimed that the procedures violated their due process rights. Plaintiffs initially filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus and a class action complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief.

The original claims arose from the detention of a family at the border. Two female members of the family were born in the United States. Their mother, a Mexican citizen, later took them to Mexico and registered them as born in Mexico so that the girls could attend school in Mexico. When the women attempted to cross the border 20 years later with a U.S. passport and U.S. birth certificate respectively, they were detained and interrogated. The case was filed while they were still being held at the port of entry.

In the course of several amended complaints, plaintiffs added six additional plaintiffs and multiple additional claims challenging the policies of both DOS and CBP. The third amended complaint by ten individuals included habeas claims, requests for declaratory and injunctive relief, requests for declaration of citizenship, and claims of violations of the Federal Torts Claims Act. Plaintiffs also added a Bivens claim for monetary damages on behalf of the original plaintiffs. On April 26, 2011, the court (Judge Hilda G. Tagle) severed the FTCA and Bivens claims from the rest of the case. The court also severed plaintiffs' citizenship claims to be separate cases.

In the April 26 order, the court ruled on several other motions. It dismissed plaintiffs' claims for unreasonable delay in adjudication. It also dismissed plaintiffs' claims for relief under 8 USC §1503 where plaintiffs had already received their passports. The court also denied plaintiffs' motion for class certification as moot, but allowed leave to refile.

On June 11, 2011 plaintiffs filed their fourth amended complaint. The claims were: (1) violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the APA in conjunction with jurisdiction under the Mandamus Act for improperly applying the preponderance of the evidence standard in adjudicating passport applications; (2) violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in failing to provide due process in adjudicating passport applications, revoking passports based on non-nationality, hearings for passports denied or revoked; (3) violations of the Equal Protection Clause for denying and revoking passports based on non-nationality; and (4) violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the Federal Detainee Act of 2005 due to mistreatment of persons at the border claiming to be U.S. citizens as well as (5) their parents. Later on June 27, 2011, the plaintiffs re-filed their motion to certify a class requesting that the court certify two classes.

On November 22, 2011, the court ruled on defendants' motion to dismiss. Most claims were dismissed. The only claims that remained were claims 1 pursuant to the Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Mandamus Act and claim 4 under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. The court, therefore, denied the motion for class certification as moot.

On December 7, 2012, the court ruled on defendants' motions to dismiss the remaining claims. The court granted in part, and denied in part, allowing the claims to go forward with respect to certain named plaintiffs.

On March 13, 2013, the plaintiffs filed another motion for class certification.

On September 30, 2013, plaintiffs filed their fifth and final amended complaint. At that point, the case centered on the standard of proof applied by DOS in adjudicating U.S. citizenship claims and the agency's failure to afford U.S. citizenship claimants any meaningful opportunity to challenge its decisions to deny a U.S. passport application or revoke an existing passport. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that DOS made arbitrary requests for documents and asked for irrelevant personal information when deciding whether to issue passports. Plaintiffs argued that DOS's practices violated their Fifth Amendment due process rights. The complaint requested class certification and declaratory and injunctive relief.

On March 26, 2014, the court denied plaintiffs’ fifth amended class action complaint. Judge Tagle found that the plaintiffs had not raised an issue common to the class, capable of class-wide resolution. This was because even if the court found that the DOS systematically misapplied the standard of proof when adjudicating U.S. citizenship claims, each individual’s claims would need to be considered separately. Therefore, while the plaintiffs’ class complaint did raise common questions, there could be no one common answer to the questions raised.

On May 2, 2014, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claim that the DOS improperly applied the standard of proof when revoking U.S. passports, and further agreed not to initiate any litigation for attorney’s fees. Three days later, the parties filed a joint status report stating that there were no other claims pending in this case. On May 8, 2014, the Judge Tagle ordered the case closed.

Jennifer Bronson - 11/18/2013
Dawn Lui - 10/21/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Habeas Corpus
Over/Unlawful Detention
Immigration/Border
Admission - procedure
Border police
Constitutional rights
Convention against Torture
Detention - conditions
Detention - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Bivens
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Customs and Border Protection
Department of State
Plaintiff Description U.S. citizens detained at the border
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filing Year 2009
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:09-cv-208 (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 1]
IM-TX-0033-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/07/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Opposed First Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 156]
IM-TX-0033-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 158] (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 190] (2011 WL 11535494) (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/22/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 221] (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Opposed Third Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 227]
IM-TX-0033-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fifth Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 240]
IM-TX-0033-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/30/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 254] (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/26/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 258] (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Tagle, Hilda G. (S.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0033-0003 | IM-TX-0033-0004 | IM-TX-0033-0005 | IM-TX-0033-0008 | IM-TX-0033-0009 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brodyaga, Lisa S. (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-0001 | IM-TX-0033-0002 | IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-0007 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Diez, Jaime M (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-0002 | IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-0007 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Maldonado, Javier N (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Potter, Cathy Jean (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Realmuto, Trina (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-0006 | IM-TX-0033-0007 | IM-TX-0033-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Fabian, Sarah B. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Rodriguez, Victor Jr (Texas)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Saltman, Julie Shana (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-9000
Stevens, Elizabeth Jones (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0033-9000

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