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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name M.S.P.C. v. Johnson IM-DC-0021
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-01437 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On August 22, 2014, mothers and children from El Salvador and Honduras, who were held in a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement ... read more >
On August 22, 2014, mothers and children from El Salvador and Honduras, who were held in a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The plaintiffs brought their suit under the Immigration and Nationality Act and the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), implemented in the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (FARRA). The Plaintiffs allege that their rights to seek asylum and related relief, and to a fair hearing to present their claims, have been violated.

Specifically, plaintiffs allege that they have been subjected to a process in which they are provided virtually no notice of when critical proceedings are scheduled to occur; asylum officers and immigration judges rush them to answer questions regarding the violence, death threats, and sexual abuse they fear - all while their children are listening; their children are ordered removed without being individually screened to determine whether they have a separate basis for fearing persecution; and their claims are denied for failing to properly respond to questions about their asylum claims phrased in complicated legal terminology.

The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigration Project and National Immigration Law Center, asked the court for: a declaratory judgment; a corrective action plan to be approved by the court; attorneys' fees; the return of deportees; and an injunctive order for the opportunity for plaintiffs to be given the opportunity to apply for asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT relief before any removal order is executed, including a new credible fear interview. They also requested, if relevant, a new immigration judge credible fear review hearing, with a reasonable amount of advance time to obtain and meet with counsel and prepare for each, as well as notice to Plaintiffs and their retained counsel as to the time of each such interview and/or hearing.

On January 30, 2015, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed all of their claims without prejudice. In their notice, Plaintiffs indicated that, as a result of the filing of the lawsuit, DHS had taken steps to remedy the failures at the Artesia facility. Furthermore, the individual Plaintiffs were able to secure representation from volunteer attorneys. In each Plaintiff's immigration case, the federal government revisited the negative decisions, vacated the expedited removal orders, and placed each Plaintiff in regular immigration proceedings. One Plaintiff had already secured asylum for herself and her children. The notice also stated that, on December 18, 2014, the federal government closed the Artesia detention facility.

Tania Morris Diaz - 10/23/2014
Dan Whitman - 02/22/2015

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Immigration status
Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Convention against Torture
National Origin/Ethnicity
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. ยงยง 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) Citizenship and Immigration Services
Customs and Border Protection
Department of Homeland Security
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Plaintiff Description Various Central American women and children fearing violence upon return to their respective countries seeking asylum in the United States.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None

Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
1:14-cv-01437-ABJ (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/15/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief
IM-DC-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Notice of Voluntary Dismissal
IM-DC-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Jackson, Amy Berman (D.D.C.)
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Creighton, Emily J. (District of Columbia)
Crow, Melissa E. (District of Columbia)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Fuentes, Gabriel A. (Illinois)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Gelernt, Lee (New York)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Huerta, Alvaro M. (California)
Keaney, Melissa S. (California)
Newell, Jennifer Chang (California)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Nightingale, Zachary M. (California)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Price, Matthew E. (District of Columbia)
IM-DC-0021-0001 | IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Rabinovitz, Judy (New York)
Realmuto, Trina (Massachusetts)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Sanchez, Maria Martinez (New Mexico)
Smith, Alexandra Freedman (New Mexico)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)
Tumlin, Karen C. (California)
IM-DC-0021-0002 | IM-DC-0021-9000
Wang, Cecillia D (California)
Werlin, Beth (District of Columbia)
Defendant's Lawyers Fabian, Sarah B. (District of Columbia)
Other Lawyers None on record

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