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Case Name Morales v. United States IM-GA-0011
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-05052-CC ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
This suit, filed on Dec. 11, 2017, challenged the legality of a series of immigration raids in the Atlanta area. The complaint stated that, in response to a 2015 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directive titled "Operation Border Resolve," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ... read more >
This suit, filed on Dec. 11, 2017, challenged the legality of a series of immigration raids in the Atlanta area. The complaint stated that, in response to a 2015 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directive titled "Operation Border Resolve," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targeted families from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala living in nine major U.S. cities, including Atlanta. As part of the directive, the complaint alleged, ICE agents were to be trained on the Fourth Amendment: "[I]f they claim to be a member of local law enforcement during a ruse, the agents must notify the local law enforcement agency beforehand."

The complaint argued that, in Jan. 2016, ICE officers used ruses to gain entry into the homes of noncitizens, then arrested and detained them without probable cause or search warrants. The plaintiffs argued that ICE violated the Fourth Amendment and committed false imprisonment, trespass, negligence, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, under Georgia state law and the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). They sought damages and declaratory relief. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. After Judge Clarence Cooper was recused, the case was reassigned to Judge Steve C. Jones on Dec. 13.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were three families with members who were citizens of various Central American countries. In one instance, ICE officers pulled over one named plaintiff while he was driving, without citing any traffic violation. The officers indicated that the plaintiff had to let them search his home, as they believed a criminal suspect was located there, or else the plaintiff risked obstructing a criminal investigation. The officers claimed to have a warrant but did not show it, and repeatedly threatened the plaintiff. Fearing arrest, but denying any such criminal suspect was in his home, the plaintiff went back to his home with them but agreed they would wait outside while he obtained identification cards of the people residing inside. The ICE officers then forcefully entered the home and eventually arrested the plaintiff's wife for missing an immigration court date, which the family claimed had not happened. ICE detained her and some of her children for a month.

In the case of another family, ICE officers once again attempted to enter into the home by claiming there was a criminal suspect there. The agents did not have a warrant, nor did they make clear they were ICE officers. Upon entering the house, they arrested and detained members of the family. Additionally, in the case of the third family, ICE officers once again gained entry into the home with no search warrant by claiming there was a criminal suspect. In each case, the plaintiffs suffered significant emotional distress after they were released from custody.

On Feb. 16, the defendants moved to dismiss. The defendants argued that the district court lacked jurisdiction under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) because the alleged conduct arose from removal proceedings and lay within the Immigration Courts' jurisdiction. The defendants also disputed that the FTCA applied because the removal orders, arrests, and detentions were lawful.

On August 6, 2018, the court (Judge Steve C. Jones) granted the motion to dismiss as to the alien plaintiffs and denied it without prejudice as to the citizen plaintiffs. The court held that 8 U.S.C. § 1252(g) and the INA barred it from adjudicating the merits of alien removal orders, but not from adjudicating citizen removal orders. The court found that the alien plaintiffs' claims that they were detained through misrepresentations and disregard for policy ultimately challenged detention methods in the execution of removal orders, and so § 1252(g)'s jurisdictional limits applied.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on Sept. 4, 2018.

The case is ongoing.

Virginia Weeks - 01/14/2018
Ava Morgenstern - 04/08/2018
Virginia Weeks - 09/05/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
False arrest
Loss or damage to property
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Search policies
Constitutional rights
Detention - criteria
Detention - procedures
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
National Origin/Ethnicity
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674
State law
Defendant(s) United States
Plaintiff Description Three Central American families living in the U.S.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Carlos Rene Morales v. United States of America
Date: Dec. 11, 2017
By: Southern Poverty Law Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:17-cv-5052 (N.D. Ga.)
IM-GA-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-GA-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 12]
IM-GA-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/16/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 17] (N.D. Ga.)
IM-GA-0011-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 18]
IM-GA-0011-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Jones, Steve CarMichael (N.D. Ga.)
IM-GA-0011-0003 | IM-GA-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Banias, Bradley (South Carolina)
IM-GA-0011-0001 | IM-GA-0011-0004 | IM-GA-0011-9000
Graybill, Lisa S. (Louisiana)
IM-GA-0011-0001 | IM-GA-0011-0004 | IM-GA-0011-9000
Werner, Daniel (Georgia)
IM-GA-0011-0001 | IM-GA-0011-0004 | IM-GA-0011-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Mendel, Gabriel Adam (Georgia)
IM-GA-0011-0002 | IM-GA-0011-9000
Pak, Byung J. (Georgia)

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