University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Innovation Law Lab v. Nielsen IM-CA-0144
Docket / Court 3:19-cv-00807 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Civil Rights Challenges to Trump Immigration Enforcement Orders
Take Care
Attorney Organization ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project
ACLU of Northern California
Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On February 14, 2019, a group of asylum seekers from Central America and several legal organizations filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ... read more >
On February 14, 2019, a group of asylum seekers from Central America and several legal organizations filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The plaintiffs challenged the Trump Administration’s new policy of forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico while they await their removal proceedings: the Migrant Protection Protocols. The plaintiff individual asylum seekers are currently residing in Mexico after having entered the U.S. to request asylum, and then been returned to Mexico under this new policy. The plaintiffs alleged that these asylum seekers are living in fear in Mexico, and that the plaintiff legal organizations are being thwarted from providing representation to such asylum seekers by the physical removal of them from the U.S.

The case was initially assigned to Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, and then reassigned to Judge Richard Seeborg on Feb. 19.

On Feb. 20, 2019 the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, seeking to enjoin the defendants’ forced return policy until a preliminary injunction can be obtained. The plaintiffs alleged that the policy violates the section of the INA that purportedly authorizes it, violates the U.S.’s duty of non-refoulement (non-return), is arbitrary and capricious under the APA, and violates the APA’s notice and comment requirements. The defendants filed their response on March 1. The judge held a hearing on the motion on March 22. On March 28, 2019 the judge issued an order requesting expedited further briefing on the issue of whether jurisdiction of this case lies exclusively in the District of Columbia.

On April 8, 2019 Judge Seeborg issued an order granting the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. 366 F. Supp. 3d 1110. The judge found that the INA section vesting DHS with the authority in some circumstances to return certain aliens to a contiguous territory (8 USC § 1225(b)(2)(C)) could not be read to apply to the plaintiff asylum seekers or others similarly situated. Additionally, he found that even if that statute could be applied to the plaintiffs, this new policy still needs to be enjoined because it fails to sufficiently protect immigrants from being returned to places where their lives or freedom are at risk. Judge Seeborg therefore enjoined the defendants from implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols nationwide and ordered that the named individual plaintiffs be permitted to enter the U.S.

The defendants appealed the order to the Ninth Circuit and requested a stay of the preliminary injunction pending the appeal. On May 7, 2019, the Ninth Circuit granted a stay of the injunction. 924 F.3d 503. The panel found that the defendants were likely to prevail on the merits of the plaintiffs' INA and APA claims. It stated that the plaintiff asylum seekers were properly subjected to the contiguous-territory provision of the INA, and that the Migrant Protection Protocols were exempt from the notice-and-comment requirement because they are general statements of policy.

The parties are awaiting a decision on the merits from the Ninth Circuit. The case is ongoing.

Sam Kulhanek - 06/16/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration/Border
Asylum - procedure
Convention against Torture
Deportation - procedure
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1350
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description Individual asylum seekers from Central America, Innovation Law Lab, Central American Resource Center of Northern California, Centro Legal de la Raza, Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Al Otro Lado, Tahirih Justice Center
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project
ACLU of Northern California
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 Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Implementation of Executive Order 13768, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
The Washington Post
Date: May 22, 2017
By: Jefferson Sessions (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Re: Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies (Final, 2/20/2017)
dhs.gov
Date: Feb. 20, 2017
By: DHS Secretary John Kelly (United States Department of Homeland Security)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Re: Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest (Final, 2/20/2017)
dhs.gov
Date: Feb. 20, 2017
By: DHS Secretary John Kelly (United States Department of Homeland Security)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
Federal Register
Date: Jan. 27, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
Citation: 82 Fed. Reg. Presidential Documents 8793 (Jan. 27, 2017)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
Federal Register
Date: Jan. 25, 2017
By: President Donald Trump (Office of the President)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:19-cv-00807 (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0144-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0144-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/14/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 73] (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0144-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/08/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 83]
IM-CA-0144-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/16/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Fletcher, William A. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0003
O'Scannlain, Diarmuid Fionntain (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0003
Seeborg, Richard G. (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0002 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Watford, Paul Jeffrey (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Balakrishnan, Anand V. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Bauer, Mary C. (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Bookey, Blaine (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Crow, Melissa E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Eiland, Katrina L. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Galindo, Daniel Antonio (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Gelernt, Lee (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Jadwat, Omar C. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
Jastram, Kathryn Jane (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Lee, Eunice (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Maitra, Sayoni (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
Musalo, Karen (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Newell, Jennifer Chang (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Rabinovitz, Judy (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Riordan, Sean Connor (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Sun, Christine Patricia (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Tan, Michael K. T. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Veroff, Julie Michelle (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Watt, Steven M. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-0001 | IM-CA-0144-9000
Willis, Gracie Harper (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
Wofsy, Cody H. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ramkumar, Archith (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
Reuveni, Erez (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
Stewart, Scott Grant (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
York, Thomas Benton (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000
Other Lawyers Joseph, Lawrence J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0144-9000

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