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Case Name Grassroots Leadership v. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services IM-TX-0041
Docket / Court D-1-GN-15-004336; 03-18-00261-CV ( State Court )
Additional Docket(s) 1:15-cv-00945-SS  [ 15-945 ]
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
On September 26, 2015, Grassroots Leadership (an Austin-based nonprofit that opposes private prison companies), 22 detainees (11 mothers and 11 children), and a licensed childcare service provider, filed this suit in state court, in the 353rd Judicial District Court of Travis County, to prevent ... read more >
On September 26, 2015, Grassroots Leadership (an Austin-based nonprofit that opposes private prison companies), 22 detainees (11 mothers and 11 children), and a licensed childcare service provider, filed this suit in state court, in the 353rd Judicial District Court of Travis County, to prevent Texas from licensing two family detention centers, in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained mothers and their children. Their challenge centered on the length and conditions of detention that could result from state licensure, arguing that it would allow for the detention of children for longer periods under lower standards of care. The plaintiffs sought a court order declaring that state licensure of these facilities was against Texas law.

The case was brought about based on a much earlier precedent. In 1997, a settlement was reached in a federal civil rights suit, Flores v. Reno, 84-cv-04544 (C.D. Cal) (IM-CA-0002 in this clearinghouse), providing that minors detained by the U.S. as their immigration cases proceeded could only be housed in non-secure and licensed settings. In July and August 2015, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee agreed with the Flores plaintiffs that the settlement applied to minors who were apprehended along with their parents, as well as to unaccompanied minors. Accordingly, Judge Gee held, the settlement barred long-term family detention in detention centers not licensed for children's occupancy by the state in which they were located. Of three such family detention centers nationwide, two were in Texas: Dilley and Karnes.

In September 2015, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), adopted an emergency regulation, allegedly authorized by Texas statute (Tit. 40, Pt. 19, Ch. 748, Subch. A, R. 748.7). The regulation allowed the state to issue child-care licenses to the detention centers, though DFPS has historically denied that it had the authority to license family residential centers of any kind.

In response to the emergency rule, the plaintiffs in this case claimed that DFPS lacked statutory authority to license the detention centers, which were run for ICE by for-profit prison companies: CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporations of America) which operated Dilley and the GEO Group which operated Karnes. Both CoreCivic and GEO Group subsequently intervened and were added as defendants to this litigation. The plaintiffs argued that the federal government enlisted Texas to help make family detention centers licensed child care facilities (because the federal government does not license such facilities) in order to exploit a loophole in the Flores consent decree to allow for longer--and potentially indefinite--detention of immigrant parents and their children.

On October 22, 2016, Texas sought to remove the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. It was assigned docket number 15-cv-00945 (W.D. Tex). However, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks held there was no federal jurisdiction, because action arose under state rather than federal law, and declined to hear the case.

Back in state court, the plaintiffs argued that the regulation was procedurally improper because no emergency existed. On November 20, 2015, Texas trial court Judge Karin Crump agreed, and temporarily enjoined the regulation.

DFPS then reissued the regulation using the ordinary, non-emergency procedure, opening it up for public comment. It went into effect on March 1, 2016. Three days later, DFPS licensed the smaller of the two ICE detention centers, in Karnes. On May 4, 2016, Judge Crump granted a temporary restraining order against licensure of the second, larger, Dilley detention center, finding that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their arguments that the regulation exceeded the agency's statutory authority. On June 3, 2016, Judge Crump issued a injunction ordering the defendants to refrain from issuing a license to Dilley. In December 2016, Judge Crump issued a final order, holding that DFPS's emergency rule violated Texas statutory standards for licensing residential childcare facilities. She declined to grant the plaintiffs' request for attorneys' fees.

Texas and the private prison companies filed a notice of appeal on December 21, 2016. That day, the Texas Court of Appeals transferred the case from the Court's 3rd District (Austin) to its 8th District (El Paso); the docket number is 08-16-00334-CV.

In May 2017, the Texas State Senate passed a bill that would have overridden Judge Crump's decision, allowing DFPS to license the Dilley and Karnes detention centers as childcare facilities. Private prison companies had lobbied for the bill. However, this bill did not pass in the Texas State House.

In the interim, the case continued in the Texas Court of Appeals. Texas and both prison companies filed separate initial briefs in June 2017. The parties each filed responses and replies until briefing was complete on January 30, 2018. The Texas Supreme Court transferred the case back to the Court’s 3rd District (Austin) in April 2018. In the interim, Texas informed the court that Karnes had changed its protocol and had started detaining fathers and their children. The court heard oral arguments on September 5, 2018.

On November 28, 2018, a 3-judge panel of the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order and dismissed the lawsuit finding that there was no “live controversy” at the time the trial judge ruled. The appellate court found that none of the plaintiffs has standing to bring this suit: Grassroots could not show concrete injury to itself as an organization, the private child care provider would not be in direct economic competition with Karnes and Dilley if licensed, and the immigrants were no longer detained in the facilities and had not claimed specific ways that the licensure would place them in harm’s way. The appellate court ordered the plaintiffs to pay the government and the private prison companies’ attorneys fees from the trial and appellate court proceedings.

The plaintiffs requested rehearing in December 2018, arguing that the court had effectively prevented any judicial review of whether Texas had exceeded its statutory authority in issuing the rule. That motion was denied. In January 2018, the plaintiffs moved for rehearing en banc (before the full court), arguing that this was an issue of national importance which required full review. They noted that Texas law largely determines the scope of family detention since thousands of family detention beds are located in Texas while less than a hundred are authorized outside of it, and highlighted the stakes regarding the safety of children.

While the November 2018 opinion opened the door for Texas to license Karnes or Dilley, it is unclear whether either facility has formally sought or obtained licensing or whether things are on hold pending the plaintiff’s rehearing requests.

This case is ongoing in state appellate court.

Soojin Cha - 08/04/2016
Ava Morgenstern - 02/20/2018
Veronica Portillo Heap - 02/25/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Extradition
Juveniles
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in shelters
Sanitation / living conditions
Youth / Adult separation
Immigration/Border
Detention - conditions
Family
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
Plaintiff Description Grassroots Leadership, a non-profit organization advocating against for-profit incarceration, on behalf of immigrants who were detained in family detention camps. Detained immigrant women and children. A private Texas licensed child-care provider.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Declaratory Judgment
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2016 - n/a
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-CA-0002 : Flores v. Reno [later Meese, Johnson, Kelly, Sessions] (C.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  Lawsuit [Grassroots Leadership v. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services]
www.grassrootsleadership.org
Date: Dec. 6, 2016
By: Grassroots Leadership
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:15−cv−00945−SS (W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0041-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/09/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D-1-GN-15-004336 (State Trial Court)
IM-TX-0041-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/17/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
08-16-00334-cv (State Court of Appeals)
IM-TX-0041-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/28/2017
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Petition [ECF# 6-1]
IM-TX-0041-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Rule 11 Agreement [ECF# 6-1]
IM-TX-0041-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Removal] [ECF# 12] (W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0041-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/03/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Temporary Restraining Order (Nov 20, 2015)
IM-TX-0041-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/20/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Second Amended Petition Seeking a Temporary Restraining Order and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 5160]
IM-TX-0041-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Application for Temporary Restraining Order with Injunction and Brief in Support [ECF# 5554]
IM-TX-0041-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Temporary Restraining Order
IM-TX-0041-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 05/04/2016
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Corrections Corporation of America's Plea in Intervention [ECF# 5265]
IM-TX-0041-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
The GEO Group's Original Plea in Intervention [ECF# 5415]
IM-TX-0041-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Responses to Defendants' Objections to Injunctive Relief
IM-TX-0041-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 05/27/2016
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Temporary Injunction [ECF# 5156]
IM-TX-0041-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment
IM-TX-0041-0016.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/02/2016
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Appellants' Brief
IM-TX-0041-0017.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/06/2017
Source: State Court Website
Brief for Appellant the GEO Group, Inc.
IM-TX-0041-0018.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/06/2017
Source: State Court Website
Brief of Appellant Corecivic
IM-TX-0041-0019.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/06/2017
Source: State Court Website
Brief of Appellees
IM-TX-0041-0020.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 10/19/2017
Source: State Court Website
Reply Brief of Appellant The GEO Group, INC.
IM-TX-0041-0021.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/28/2017
Source: State Court Website
Appellants’ Reply Brief
IM-TX-0041-0022.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/28/2017
Source: State Court Website
Reply Brief of Appellant Corecivic
IM-TX-0041-0023.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/28/2017
Source: State Court Website
Appellees' Sur-Reply
IM-TX-0041-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2018
Source: State Court Website
Memorandum Opinion Reversing Trial Court Decision (2018 WL 6187433)
IM-TX-0041-0025.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/28/2018
Source: State Court Website
show all people docs
Judges Crump, Karin Court not on record show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0001 | IM-TX-0041-0002 | IM-TX-0041-0015 | IM-TX-0041-0016 | IM-TX-0041-0025 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Sparks, Sam (W.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0007 | IM-TX-0041-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bunker-Henderson, Nichole Beth (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-9002
Disher, Todd Lawrence (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-9002
Doggett, Robert (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0003 | IM-TX-0041-0004 | IM-TX-0041-0005 | IM-TX-0041-0011 | IM-TX-0041-0012 | IM-TX-0041-0020 | IM-TX-0041-0024 | IM-TX-0041-9000 | IM-TX-0041-9001 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Edelman, Andrew (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0019 | IM-TX-0041-0023 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Emery, Mark Thomas (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0018 | IM-TX-0041-0021 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Keller, Scott A. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0017 | IM-TX-0041-0022
Mateer, Jeffrey C. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0017 | IM-TX-0041-0022
Monson, Kristofer S. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0017 | IM-TX-0041-0022 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Paxton, Ken (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0017 | IM-TX-0041-0022
Wesevich, Jerome W. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0003 | IM-TX-0041-0004 | IM-TX-0041-0011 | IM-TX-0041-0012 | IM-TX-0041-0020 | IM-TX-0041-0024 | IM-TX-0041-9001 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Wilkin, Bruce (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0019 | IM-TX-0041-0023 | IM-TX-0041-9002
York, Bertina B. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0018 | IM-TX-0041-0021 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Defendant's Lawyers Bacarisse, Nicholas B. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0020 | IM-TX-0041-0024 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Brown, Jay W. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0014 | IM-TX-0041-0019 | IM-TX-0041-0023 | IM-TX-0041-9000 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Deacon, Charles A (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0013 | IM-TX-0041-0018 | IM-TX-0041-0021 | IM-TX-0041-9000 | IM-TX-0041-9002
Holsinger, Kara (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-9001
Tulinski, Pat (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0005 | IM-TX-0041-9000 | IM-TX-0041-9001
Warr, Amy (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0041-0020 | IM-TX-0041-0024

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