Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
by
This appeal arose from a class action filed under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 by individuals who were incarcerated in private immigration detention facilities owned and operated by a for-profit corporation, CoreCivic, Inc. These individuals were detained solely due to their immigration status alleged that the overseers of their private detention facilities forced them to perform labor against their will and without compensation. The inquiry on appeal concerns only whether the district court properly certified three classes of detainees.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order certifying three classes in an action. The court held that the district court properly exercised its discretion in certifying a California Labor Law Class, a California Forced Labor Class, and a National Forced Labor Class. The court held that, as to the California Forced Labor Class, Plaintiffs submitted sufficient proof of a class-wide policy of forced labor to establish commonality. Plaintiff established predominance because the claims of the class members all depended on common questions of law and fact. The court agreed with the district court that narrowing the California Forced Labor Class based on the California TVPA’s statute of limitations was not required at the class certification stage.   The court held that, as to the National Forced Labor Class, the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiffs presented significant proof of a class-wide policy of forced labor. As to the California Labor Law Class, the court held that Plaintiffs established that damages were capable of measurement on a class-wide basis. View "SYLVESTER OWINO V. CORECIVIC, INC." on Justia Law

by
In November 2017, Saul Cisneros was charged with two misdemeanor offenses and jailed. The court set Cisneros’s bond at $2,000, and Cisneros’s daughter posted that bond four days later, but the County Sheriff’s Office did not release him. Instead, pursuant to Sheriff Bill Elder’s policies and practices, the Sheriff’s Office notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) that the jail had been asked to release Cisneros on bond. ICE then sent the jail a detainer and administrative warrant, requesting that the jail continue to detain Cisneros because ICE suspected that he was removable from the United States. Cisneros was placed on an indefinite “ICE hold,” and remained in detention. During his detention, Cisneros, along with another pretrial detainee, initiated a class action in state court against Sheriff Elder, in his official capacity, for declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether the appellate court erred in concluding that section 24-10-106(1.5)(b), C.R.S. (2021), of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (“CGIA”) did not waive sovereign immunity for intentional torts that result from the operation of a jail for claimants who were incarcerated but not convicted. The Supreme Court concluded section 24-10-106(1.5)(b) waived immunity for such intentional torts. "In reaching this determination, we conclude that the statutory language waiving immunity for 'claimants who are incarcerated but not yet convicted' and who 'can show injury due to negligence' sets a floor, not a ceiling. To hold otherwise would mean that a pre-conviction claimant could recover for injuries resulting from the negligent operation of a jail but not for injuries resulting from the intentionally tortious operation of the same jail, an absurd result that we cannot countenance." Accordingly, the judgment of the division below was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Cisneros v. Elder" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the declaratory judgment and permanent injunction issued by the district court in this class action challenging the bond procedures used to detain noncitizen during the pendency of removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1226(a), the discretionary immigration detention provision, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction to issue injunctive relief in favor of the class.Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) the district court did not err in declaring that noncitizens "detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1226(a) are entitled to receive a bond hearing at which the government must prove the alien is either dangerous by clear and convincing evidence or a risk of flight by a preponderance of the evidence"; (2) the classwide injunction in this case unlawfully enjoined or restrained the operation of section 1226(a); and (3) the remaining portion of the district court's declaration was advisory. View "Pereira Brito v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the ruling of the district court that there was no per se constitutional entitlement to a bond hearing after six months of detention and otherwise vacated the district court's declaratory and injunctive relief, holding that it was advisory.Petitioners brought this class action on behalf of noncitizen detainees held without possibility of release pending the completion of their removal proceedings. On remand, Petitioners alleged that mandatory detention of the class members under 8 U.S.C. 1226(c) for more than six months violated the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause or the Eighth Amendment excessive Bail Clause. The district court ruled that there was no per se constitutional entitlement to a bond hearing after six months of detention but that the length of time that might constitutionally pass without a bond hearing turned on each noncitizen's individual circumstances. The court then issued declaratory and injunctive relief in favor of all class members. The First Circuit held (1) the district court properly rejected the claim that persons detained for six months under section 1226(c) are automatically entitled to a bond hearing; and (2) the district court improperly granted binding equitable relief. View "Reid v. Donelan" on Justia Law

by
The federal government entered final removal orders against about 1,000 Iraqi nationals in 2017, and has detained them or will detain them. Most remain in the U.S. due to diplomatic difficulties preventing their return to Iraq. The district court certified three subclasses: (1) primary class members without individual habeas petitions who are or will be detained by ICE, (2) those in the first subclass who are also subject to final removal orders, and (3) those in the first subclass whose motions to reopen their removal proceedings have been granted and who are being held under a statute mandating their detention. The Sixth Circuit previously vacated two preliminary injunctions, citing lack of jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. 1252(g) and (f)(1). One prevented the removal of certain Iraqi nationals; another required bond hearings for each class member who had been detained for at least six months. A third injunction requires the government to release all primary subclass members, those in the first subclass, once the government has detained them for six months, no matter the statutory authority under which they were held. The district court concluded that the class members showed that the government was unlikely to repatriate them to Iraq in the reasonably foreseeable future and that the government “acted ignobly.” The Sixth Circuit vacated the injunction. Congress stripped all courts, except the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction to enjoin or restrain the operation of 8 U.S.C. 1221–1232 on a class-wide basis. View "Hamama v. Adducci" on Justia Law

by
According to its website, the University of Northern New Jersey, founded in 2012, was “nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the Commission on English Language Accreditation” and “certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Student and Exchange Visitor Program to educate international students.” The site included a statement from UNNJ's President, Dr. Brunetti, and its social media accounts informed students of closings for inclement weather and of alumni marriages. The University never existed. The Department of Homeland Security created the “sham university” to catch brokers of fraudulent student visas. It ensnared many such brokers; hundreds of foreign students “enrolled.” The government initially conceded that those students were innocent victims, but later suggested that they were akin to participants in the fraudulent scheme. Each enrolled student (including the plaintiffs) received a letter informing them that their student status had been terminated due to fraudulent enrollment. The government charged 21 individuals with fraudulently procuring visas. The plaintiffs filed a class action. The district court dismissed the claims, finding that there was no final government action. The Third Circuit vacated. Reinstatement proceedings are not required and would not afford an opportunity for review of DHS’s decision to terminate their F1 visa status. The students need not wait until removal proceedings are instituted to challenge the termination of their student status; neither immigration judges nor the BIA have authority to overturn the denial of reinstatement. View "Fang v. Director United States Immigration & Customs Enforcement" on Justia Law

by
This appeal addressed whether immigration detainees housed in a private contract detention facility in Aurora, Colorado could bring claims as a class under: (1) 18 U.S.C. 1589, a provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the “TVPA”) that prohibits forced labor; and (2) Colorado unjust enrichment law. The GEO Group, Inc. (“GEO”) owned and operated the Aurora Facility under government contract. While there, Appellees rendered mandatory and voluntary services to GEO: cleaning their housing units’ common areas and performed various jobs through a voluntary work program, which paid them $1 a day. The district court certified two separate classes: (1) all detainees housed at the Aurora Facility in the past ten years (the “TVPA class”); and (2) all detainees who participated in the Aurora Facility’s voluntary work program in the past three years (the “unjust enrichment class”). On interlocutory appeal, GEO argues that the district court abused its discretion in certifying each class under Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It primarily contended Appellees’ TVPA and Colorado unjust enrichment claims both required predominantly individualized determinations, making class treatment inappropriate. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed class certification. View "Menocal v. The GEO Group" on Justia Law

by
As a result of criminal convictions Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought removal of lawful U.S. permanent residents. Pending removal proceedings, each was detained under 8 U.S.C. 1226(c), which provides that if ICE has “reason to believe” that an alien is “deportable” or “inadmissible” by virtue of having committed a specified crime, that alien “shall” be taken into custody when released from detention for that crime, "without regard to whether the alien is released on parole, supervised release, or probation, and without regard to whether the alien may be arrested or imprisoned again for the same offense.” In a purported class action, the district court dismissed in part, holding that section 1226(c) did not violate substantive due process with respect to aliens who assert a substantial challenge to their removability. The court later held that the form giving aliens notice of their right to seek a hearing does not provide constitutionally adequate notice, that the government was required to revise the form, and that procedures for that hearing violate due process by not placing the initial burden on the government. The court then denied a motion to certify the class, stating that certification was “unnecessary” because “all aliens who are subjected to mandatory detention would benefit from the injunctive relief and remedies.” Stating that the district court “put the cart before the horse a,” the Third Circuit vacated. Once petitioners were released from detention, their individual claims became moot so the court retained jurisdiction only to rule on the motion for class certification—not to decide the merits issues. View "Gayle v. Warden Monmouth Cnty. Corr. Inst." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed a class action challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's Proposition 100. Proposition 100 commands that Arizona state courts could not set bail for serious felony offenses as prescribed by the legislature if the person charged has entered or remained in the United States illegally and if the proof was evident or the presumption great as to the charge. After reviewing the record, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and partial dismissal, concluding that plaintiffs have not raised triable issues of fact as to whether Proposition 100 and its implementing procedures violated the substantive and procedural due process guarantees of the United State's Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment, and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, nor whether the Proposition 100 laws were preempted by federal immigration law. The court concluded that the Arizona Legislature and Arizona voters passed the Proposition 100 laws to further the state's legitimate and compelling interest in seeing that those accused of serious state-law crimes were brought to trial. View "Lopez-Valenzuela v. County of Maricopa" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff represented a class of legal immigrants in the state of Washington adversely affected by its recent termination of a state-funded food assistance program for legal immigrants, which exclusively benefitted Washington resident aliens who became ineligible for federal food stamps following the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, 8 U.S.C. 1601 et seq. Plaintiff contended that the state, by eliminating food assistance to class members while continuing to administer federal food assistance to U.S. citizens and certain qualified aliens, violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and, by failing to provide class members adequate pre-deprivation notice and opportunity to be heard, also violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Because plaintiff failed even to allege that the State treated her less favorably than a similarly situated citizen of the State, her claim of alienage discrimination failed on the merits. The court agreed with the State that plaintiff lacked the concrete and particularized interest required for standing to claim a procedural due process violation. Consequently, plaintiff either lacked standing or would not succeed on the merits of her claims. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order granting the motion for a preliminary injunction, vacated the injunction, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Pimentel v. Dreyfus, et al." on Justia Law