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Case Name J.E.C.M. v. Lloyd IM-VA-0007
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-00903-LMB-MSN ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
This case was about U.S. immigration and family reunification policies.

A group of Honduran and Guatemalan minors, guardians, and sponsors filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on July 20, 2018. Plaintiffs sued the Office of ... read more >
This case was about U.S. immigration and family reunification policies.

A group of Honduran and Guatemalan minors, guardians, and sponsors filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on July 20, 2018. Plaintiffs sued the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center (SVJC), Youth for Tomorrow, and other contractors supporting immigration enforcement under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), 8 U.S.C. § 1232, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 551. Plaintiffs also petitioned for writs of habeas corpus. Plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ separation of children from their families for extended periods of time violated their statutory and constitutional rights. This was based on a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by ORR and CBP on April 13, 2021. Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from the Legal Aid Justice Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, and private counsel. Relief sought included declaratory relief and the immediate release of unlawfully detained children. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema was assigned.

Plaintiffs raised six claims against the defendants. The first three claims related to the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s procedures regarding family reunification applications. These procedures allegedly violated plaintiffs’ substantive due process rights, procedural due process rights, and the TVPRA. The next two claims related to ORR’s policy of requesting biological and biometric information from family members seeking reunification. This allegedly violated the APA for failure to comply with notice-and-comment rulemaking and for being arbitrary and capricious. The final claim was seeking habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241(c).

Minor plaintiffs had all fled their home countries for fear of persecution or after the death of a family member. They were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Two of the four minor plaintiffs were separated from siblings who had fled with them. The other two plaintiffs were placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement; one was sent to Youth for Tomorrow and one was transferred to the Wal-Mart-turned-detention-center SVJC. All plaintiffs were held for six months or more before being reunited with their families.

Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint and a motion to seal on August 16, 2018. This motion was granted, which means that many of the files related to this case, including the initial complaint, additional complaints, and several motions, are unavailable for public access. The information in this summary comes from those filings that are publicly available.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim on September 21, 2018. This was granted in part and denied in part on November 15, 2018. The court dismissed as moot the claims of three individual plaintiffs who had, at the time of the motion, been released from ORR’s custody, and also granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss regarding the substantive due process claims. However, the court denied defendants’ motion with regards to the APA claims, the TVPRA claim, and their procedural due process claims. 352 F. Supp. 3d 559.

On February 22, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Complaint, and on March 4, filed a motion for class certification. On March 14, the defendants again filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, which was granted five days later regarding the “individual” claims of all the plaintiffs. The docket did not specify exactly which claims were “individual,” but at least some claims were not individual claims because the case continued.

The court certified two classes on April 26, 2019. The first class was for minors (including all children designated as unaccompanied undocumented minors in ORR’s custody). The second class was for sponsors (including those who had applied to sponsor a minor to whom the minor had not been released).

The parties conducted discovery over the following months.

Both plaintiffs and defendants filed motions for summary judgment on September 16 and October 16, 2019, respectively. Plaintiffs then moved for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on May 6, 2020. Two days later, the proposed TRO was denied without prejudice. (The court’s reasons for the denial were not presented in the order. Instead, the court’s reasoning was stated during a telephone conference with parties. Unfortunately, both the transcript for this conference and other materials concerning the TRO were either sealed or otherwise not publicly available.)

The court ordered that both the plaintiffs' and defendants' motions for summary judgment be held in abeyance on March 17, 2021. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had replaced the April 2018 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) of which ORR and CBP were signatories. This MOA was the central part of this case. The court paused the motions so parties had time to respond.

The case is ongoing.

Elizabeth Helpling - 10/10/2019
Eric Gripp - 07/19/2021

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Family reunification
Habeas Corpus
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in shelters
Youth / Adult separation
Constitutional rights
Detention - procedures
Family Separation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. § 1589
Defendant(s) Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Youth for Tomorrow
Plaintiff Description Minors from Honduras and Guatemala who fled their home countries in fear and were taken into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement for periods greater than six months and their sponsors.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 07/20/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
E.D. Va.
IM-VA-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Va.
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 60] (353 F.Supp.3d 559)
IM-VA-0007-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Va.
Third Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 72-1]
IM-VA-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Va.
Order [ECF# 138]
IM-VA-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Va.
Order [ECF# 323]
IM-VA-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Brinkema, Leonie M. (E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0007-0001 | IM-VA-0007-0003 | IM-VA-0007-0004 | IM-VA-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bauer, Mary C. (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0007-0002 | IM-VA-0007-9000
Bezos, Salvador Manuel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0007-0002 | IM-VA-0007-9000
Ciolfi, Angela A. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Donovan, Kristin Fisher (Virginia) show/hide docs
Draper, Saira (Georgia) show/hide docs
Gregg, Sophia Leticia (Virginia) show/hide docs
Lopez, Luz Virginia (Georgia) show/hide docs
Rivera, Laura G. (Georgia) show/hide docs
Rozendaal, John Christopher (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0007-0002 | IM-VA-0007-9000
Sandoval-Moshenberg, Simon (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0007-0002 | IM-VA-0007-9000
Warner, Granville Clayton (Virginia) show/hide docs
Wolozin, Rebecca Ruth (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0007-0002 | IM-VA-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Botkins, Jason (Virginia) show/hide docs
Flores, John Robert (Virginia) show/hide docs
Hall, Jeffery A. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Lucier, Jonathan Tyler (Virginia) show/hide docs
Yang, Catherine M. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Lange, Perry Andrew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs

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