Filed Date: April 7, 2020
Closed Date: May 1, 2020
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COVID-19 Summary: Five immigration detainees filed a habeas petition and a motion for a temporary restraining order challenging their continued detention in Michigan jails despite their heightened vulnerability to COVID-19. On April 14, the district court denied the plaintiffs' request for a TRO. On April 29, the court issued an opinion denying the plaintiffs' habeas petition and dismissing their claims.
On April 7, 2020, five immigration detainees filed a habeas petition and lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The plaintiffs were being held in ICE custody at the Monroe County Jail and the St. Clair County Jail in Michigan, and alleged they were particularly vulnerable to serious illness or death if infected by COVID-19. Represented by the ACLU of Michigan, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU National Prison Project, and private counsel, the plaintiffs sought a writ of habeas corpus and an order for the plaintiffs’ immediate release on the ground that their continued detention violated the Due Process Clause or, in the alternative, injunctive relief to the same effect. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) requesting immediate release in addition to their complaint. The plaintiffs also sought declaratory relief and attorneys’ fees and costs. The case was assigned to Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III.
The complaint claimed that the plaintiffs faced a heightened risk of contracting the virus due to their confinement. It further stated that the plaintiffs were older adults and/or had underlying medical conditions creating a high risk of serious infection. The plaintiffs alleged that their continued detention subjected them to unlawful punishment in violation of their Fifth Amendment right to substantive due process.
The plaintiffs also stated that one of the plaintiffs had been scheduled to be removed from the U.S. in March, but ICE had indefinitely delayed that departure date. Consequently, the plaintiff was being detained under 8 U.S.C. § 1231, which authorizes a 90-day period of mandatory post-final-order detention during which ICE is supposed to effectuate removal. The plaintiffs alleged that this plaintiff would necessarily be detained beyond this 90-day period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and should therefore be immediately released under an order of supervision.
On April 14, Judge Murphy denied the plaintiffs' emergency motion for a TRO. In his opinion, Judge Murphy stated that the plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment claims were more properly analyzed under the Eighth Amendment standard for claims relating to health concerns. He then concluded that at this early stage, the plaintiffs had failed to show that they are or will be exposed to a substantial risk of serious harm such that this relief was warranted. Judge Murphy noted that detention centers were implementing recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19, and that the plaintiffs had not provided much facility-specific information regarding the outbreak. 2020 WL 1872362.
The defendants filed their response to the plaintiffs' habeas petition on April 17.
On April 29, 2020, Judge Murphy issued an opinion and order denying the plaintiffs' habeas petition and granting in part and denying in part a motion they had filed on April 20 seeking leave to submit additional evidence. Judge Murphy first noted that of the original five petitioners, only two still had live claims; since filing, one had been released, one had been deported, and one had been transferred to a facility in Louisiana. Consequently, the only claims remaining related to the Monroe facility and the plaintiff being detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1231.
Addressing the plaintiffs' due process claims, Judge Murphy again noted that the claims were more properly analyzed under the Eighth Amendment's deliberate indifference standard because they related to health concerns. He found that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that they had objectively been exposed to a substantial risk of serious harm; rather, he stated that COVID-19 posed a risk of serious illness to all Americans, whether detained or not. He concluded that COVID-19 had not "breached the walls" of the Monroe detention facility, and that detention centers were implementing precautions to prevent its spread. He next noted that most of the evidence the plaintiffs had presented was not specific to the Monroe facility, but rather focused on ICE facilities throughout the U.S.
Judge Murphy next addressed the claim that one plaintiff was being detained in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(6) because his removal was not reasonably likely in the foreseeable future. He concluded that the statute's 90-day period of mandatory post-final-order detention would not expire until May 25, 2020, at the earliest, meaning that the plaintiff had only alleged a potential future violation. Consequently, Judge Murphy denied the plaintiff's claim without prejudice.
Judge Murphy entered a final judgment dismissing the plaintiffs' claims. The plaintiffs did not file an appeal, and the case is closed.
Sam Kulhanek (7/17/2020)
Lily Sawyer-Kaplan (10/18/2020)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17051451/parties/albino-martinez-v-adducci/
Andrade, Monica (Michigan)
Aukerman, Miriam (Michigan)
Balakrishnan, Anand V. (New York)
Cho, Eunice (District of Columbia)
Contreras, Jonathan (Michigan)
Grand, David R. (Michigan)
Levy, Judith Ellen (Michigan)
Murphy, Stephen Joseph III (Michigan)
Patti, Anthony P. (Michigan)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17051451/albino-martinez-v-adducci/
Last updated Feb. 17, 2024, 3:02 a.m.
State / Territory: Michigan
Filing Date: April 7, 2020
Closing Date: May 1, 2020
Case Ongoing: No
Five immigration detainees being held at the Monroe County Jail and the St. Clair County Jail in Michigan who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
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Prevailing Party: Defendant
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