University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name Flores Tejada v. Godfrey IM-WA-0046
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-1454 ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
Case Summary
On September 14, 2016, a Mexican citizen who had been previously detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiff sued the local Field Office Director of Immigration and Customs ... read more >
On September 14, 2016, a Mexican citizen who had been previously detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiff sued the local Field Office Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Director of ICE, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Attorney General of the U.S., and the warden of the Northwest Detention Center under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.) (INA), the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 701 et seq.), the Suspension Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Habeas Corpus (28 U.S.C. § 2241), and the All Writs Act (28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1361, and 1651). Represented by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the plaintiff sought a writ of habeas corpus, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants denied him his due process rights and violated the INA by detaining plaintiff class members for more than six months and by not offering individualized custody redetermination hearings (also known as bond hearings) before an Immigration Judge after having been found by asylum officers to have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture.

Specifically, the defendants had previously determined that Immigration Judges do not have jurisdiction over custody hearings for persons fleeing persecution and torture and placed in "withholding only" proceedings under the Procedures for Asylum and Withholding Removal (8 C.F.R. § 1208). However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had held that persons in immigration proceedings facing detention of six months or longer are entitled to a custody hearing. Rodriguez v. Robbins, 804 F.3d 1060 (9th Cir. 2015). An Immigration Judge could issue a custody redetermination on whether the person presents a flight risk or threat to the community, or whether the noncitizen is entitled to be released during the immigration proceedings. As a result of the defendants' determination, persons in withholding only proceedings remained incarcerated in federal facilities and private prisons (e.g. the Northwest Detention Center) often for more than a year, and sometimes for multiple years.

The case was assigned to Judge James L. Robart. On October 19, 2016, the defendants moved to stay the petition for writ of habeas corpus. The next day, the plaintiff moved to certify the following class definition: "All individuals detained in the Western District of Washington who are placed in withholding only proceedings under 8 C.F.R. § 1208.31(e) who, (1) are thereafter denied an individualized custody determination before an Immigration Judge or, (2) on or before six months of civil immigration detention, are not provided automatic individualized custody hearings where Defendants must justify their continued detention."

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on November 7, 2016. Regarding their previous motion to stay, the district court denied it on November 29, 2016. Two days later, the plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction.

The plaintiff filed an amended complaint on January 31, 2017. The changes included adding more named plaintiffs and revising the class definition so as to remove any ambiguity that the named plaintiffs belonged to the plaintiff class. On February 8, the plaintiffs amended the motion to certify the plaintiff class with the new class definition, which removed the first definition's specificity around denied custody hearings: "All individuals who are placed in withholding only proceedings under 8 C.F.R. § 1208.31(e) in the Western District of Washington who are detained or subject to an order of detention." On February 27, 2017, the defendants filed a second motion to dismiss for the newly-added named plaintiffs.

The district court ruled on both motions to dismiss on July 11, 2017. It granted the first motion, which was directed at the claims of the original named plaintiff, and denied the second motion. For the first motion, the district court held that the plaintiff lacked standing because he was already released from detention and failed to show "a sufficient likelihood" of the defendants detaining him again. On August 4, 2017, the defendants filed an amended motion to dismiss.

On September 13, 2017, the district court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, in part with prejudice and in part without. Because the original named plaintiff's claims were dismissed, his request for injunctive relief was denied with prejudice. The district court also denied with prejudice preliminary injunctive relief regarding immediate custody hearings after being placed in withholding only proceedings because the Ninth Circuit recently held that the plaintiffs were not entitled to those immediate hearings. Padilla-Ramirez v. Bible, 862 F.3d 881 (9th Cir. 2017). For the issue of custody hearings after a prolonged detention, the district court denied without prejudice preliminary relief because of the pending motions for dismissal and class certification.

The district court certified the following version of the plaintiff class definition on December 11, 2017: "All individuals who (1) were placed in withholding only proceedings under 8 C.F.R. § 1208.31(e) in the Western District of Washington after having a removal order reinstated, and (2) have been detained for 180 days (a) without a custody hearing or (b) since receiving a custody hearing." This version added back elements regarding custody hearings and the length of detention that the first amended complaint had dropped.

The plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on December 14, 2017, asking the district court to declare the defendants' actions unlawful and to order the defendants to provide all class members with individualized custody hearings. They argued that the defendants, by asserting that the plaintiffs were not entitled to the individualized hearings, had agreed that it was their policy to deny these hearings. The defendants filed a cross motion for summary judgment on January 8, 2018.

On April 4, 2018, the district court granted in part and denied in part both summary judgment motions and granted injunctive relief. It granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs—they were entitled to automatic custody hearings after six months of detention. It also granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs for their due process claim as a result. On the other hand, the district court granted summary judgment for the defendants for the due process claim. It also enjoined the defendants from enforcing the policy of not providing individualized custody hearings every six months, holding that the defendants violated the INA by failing to provide those hearings.

The defendants appealed to the Ninth Circuit on May 30, 2018. Meanwhile, back in the trial court on April 4, 2019, the defendants moved for relief from the district court's order. The district court deferred its ruling on June 4, 2019, pending the Ninth Circuit's decision.

The Ninth Circuit heard oral argument on November 13, 2019. On April 7, 2020, it remanded the case, affirming in part and reversing and vacating in part the district court's opinion. The Ninth Circuit applied its holding in Aleman Gonzalez v. Sessions (IM-CA-0120 in this Clearinghouse) and affirmed the parts of the injunction (from April 4, 2018) that required the defendants to provide individualized hearings after six months when the class member's release was not imminent and to justified continued detention with clear and convincing evidence. However, the Ninth Circuit reversed and vacated the judgment that the defendants hold additional hearings every six months because no such requirement was explicitly found in previous cases or statutes. Because the district court had used this finding of requiring additional hearings to rule on the plaintiffs' due process claim, the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for reconsideration of the due process claim. 955 F.3d 762 (9th Cir. 2020).

On June 24, 2020, the parties moved to stay proceedings, which the district court granted on June 25, because the defendants were deciding whether to file a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court had extended the time to file a petition, and so case proceedings were stayed until September 5, 2020.

The defendants filed a petition to the Supreme Court on September 4, 2020, for both this case and Aleman Gonzalez v. Sessions. The petition and briefs were distributed on January 8, 2021. As of April 15, 2021, the case is pending the Court's decision on whether to grant a writ of certiorari.

Lauren Yu - 04/15/2021


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Suspension Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Habeas Corpus
Placement in detention facilities
Immigration/Border
Asylum - procedure
Constitutional rights
Detention - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) Attorney General
Director of Executive Office for Immigration Review
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director
Northwest Detention Center Warden
Seattle District of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Field Office Director
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description "All individuals who (1) were placed in withholding only proceedings under 8 C.F.R. § 1208.31(e) in the Western District of Washington after having a removal order reinstated, and (2) have been detained for 180 days (a) without a custody hearing or (b) since receiving a custody hearing."
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 09/14/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-CA-0120 : Aleman Gonzalez v. Sessions (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Barr v. Aleman Gonzalez
SCOTUSblog
Date: Dec. 23, 2020
By: SCOTUSblog
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Impact Litigation
https://www.nwirp.org/our-work/impact-litigation/
By: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
W.D. Wash.
10/22/2020
2:16-cv-01454-JLR
IM-WA-0046-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
W.D. Wash.
09/14/2016
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-WA-0046-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
01/31/2017
Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Class Action Complaint [ECF# 38]
IM-WA-0046-0005.pdf | Detail
W.D. Wash.
07/11/2017
Order [ECF# 53] (2017 WL 2983060)
IM-WA-0046-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
09/13/2017
Order on Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 63] (2017 WL 9938444)
IM-WA-0046-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
12/14/2017
Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 72]
IM-WA-0046-0006.pdf | Detail
W.D. Wash.
01/23/2018
Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment [ECF# 77-1] (2018 WL 3244988)
IM-WA-0046-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
W.D. Wash.
04/04/2018
Order Adopting Report and Recommendation [ECF# 83] (2018 WL 1617706)
IM-WA-0046-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
04/07/2020
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 104] (954 F.3d 1245)
IM-WA-0046-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Fernandez, Ferdinand Francis (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-0008
Miller, Eric David (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-0008
Robart, James L. (W.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-0002 | IM-WA-0046-0003 | IM-WA-0046-0004 | IM-WA-0046-0007 | IM-WA-0046-9000
Smith, Milan Dale Jr. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Matthew (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-0001 | IM-WA-0046-0005 | IM-WA-0046-0006 | IM-WA-0046-9000
Kang, Leila (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-0006 | IM-WA-0046-9000
Korthuis, Aaron (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-9000
Madrid, Glenda Melinda Aldana (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-0006 | IM-WA-0046-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Saeed, Sairah G. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-9000
Steffens Guzman, Gladys M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0046-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -