University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name D.A.M. v. Barr IM-DC-0082
Docket / Court 20-cv-1321 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed in response to the effects of COVID-19 on deportation procedures. The plaintiffs argued that deportation would expose them to COVID-19 and return them to countries that were unable to care for their medical needs. The court twice declined to enter a ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed in response to the effects of COVID-19 on deportation procedures. The plaintiffs argued that deportation would expose them to COVID-19 and return them to countries that were unable to care for their medical needs. The court twice declined to enter a temporary restraining order. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on September 18.


Immigrants subject to deportation held in the South Texas Family Residential Facility or the Berks County Residential Center filed this lawsuit on May 18, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Represented by private counsel and attorneys from Rapid Defense Network, the plaintiffs sued the U.S. Attorney General and the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and writs of habeas corpus to stop their removals as well as attorneys' fees and costs. The plaintiffs also filed emergency motions for temporary restraining order and to stay deportation on the same day.

The plaintiffs alleged that deporting them during COVID-19 was illegal on several grounds. First, the plaintiffs argued that deportation would violate their substantive and procedural due process rights by subjecting them to a risk of contracting COVID-19 and then deporting them to countries with insufficient resources to treat them. Second, they argued that deportation (which involved placing them in confined spaces like buses and planes) was a state-created danger that violated their substantive due process rights. Third, they argued that the government's special duty to persons it held in custody prevented the government from deporting them during the pandemic. Finally, the plaintiffs argued that deportations violated CDC guidelines against international travel that ICE had promised to follow. And that, they said, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.) and the Accardi doctrine, under which agencies must follow their own self-imposed rules.

The case was assigned to Judge Carl J. Nichols and then reassigned to Judge Christopher R. Cooper.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on July 9, 2020. The Clearinghouse does not have access to this document as this time. On July 23, 2020, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order. The court found that the plaintiffs were not likely to succeed on the merits. According to Judge Cooper, while the plaintiffs did have due process rights despite being in the country illegally, deporting them during the pandemic would not violate those rights. Judge Cooper found that the government had a legitimate interest in the enforcement of immigration laws and that the deportations were rationally related to that interest. The court also found that the government was not forbidden from deporting plaintiffs under Accardi. The court wrote that Accardi only applies to procedural due process, whereas the CDC guidelines that plaintiffs wanted the government to abide by were substantive. 2020 WL 4218003.

On the same same day, July 23, the plaintiffs filed a second motion for temporary restraining order and the court granted a stay of the plaintiffs' removal orders.

Around the same time, another judge struck down the "Transit Ban," an interim rule that barred most claims by asylum-seekers who entered the United States at the Mexican border but had not sought asylum in any countries they passed through on their way to the United States. For more information on that case, see CAIR v. Trump.

Many of the orders of removal at issue in this case were issued under the Transit Ban. With the Transit Ban gone, the plaintiffs filed another motion for a temporary restraining order. They argued that deporting them based on determinations made under the now-defunct Transit Ban would violate their due process rights.

Judge Cooper denied the motion for a temporary restraining order and lifted the stay on removals on September 15, 2020. Judge Cooper acknowledged that the plaintiffs "will likely suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a TRO," and that the balance of equities likely favored the plaintiffs. He also suggested that deporting the plaintiffs on the basis of removal orders issued under a vacated rule would violate due process. Still, Judge Cooper determined that the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits. Specifically, he found that the court likely lacked jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252, which bars judicial review of any claim "arising from or relating to the implementation" of expedited removal proceedings. He also rejected the plaintiffs' argument that § 1252 violated the Constitution's Suspension Clause because the plaintiffs were not seeking release from custody. 2020 WL 5525056.

On September 15, 2020, the plaintiffs filed an appeal in the D.C. Circuit, which was assigned USCA Case Number 20-5281. The D.C. Circuit stayed the case on September 15, 2020, and a panel (Judges Karen L. Henderson, David S. Tatel, and Gregory G. Katsas) dissolved the stay on September 30. The en banc court stayed the plaintiffs' removals on October 2. On October 16, the court dissolved the October 2 stay, and the parties voluntarily dismissed the case on October 30.

Meanwhile, the government filed a motion to dismiss or, alternatively, transfer the case to the Southern District of Texas or the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (where the plaintiffs were detained) on September 18, 2020.

The case is ongoing as of March 3, 2021.

Jack Hibbard - 07/30/2020
Timothy Leake - 10/09/2020
Zofia Peach - 03/03/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Habeas Corpus
Juveniles
Placement in detention facilities
Sanitation / living conditions
Immigration/Border
Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Constitutional rights
Convention against Torture
Deportation - criteria
Deportation - judicial review
Deportation - procedure
Detention - conditions
Detention - procedures
Family
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Attorney General of the United States
Plaintiff Description Immigrants facing deportation held in the South Texas Family Residential Facility or the Berks County Residential Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
None
Source of Relief None yet
None
Filed 05/28/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D.D.C.
01/27/2021
1:20-cv-01321
IM-DC-0082-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
05/18/2020
Petitioners' Notice of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Request for Emergency Hearing [ECF# 6-2 to 6-6]
IM-DC-0082-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
07/23/2020
Order [ECF# 33]
IM-DC-0082-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
07/23/2020
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 34] (474 F.Supp.3d 45)
IM-DC-0082-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
09/15/2020
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 50] (486 F.Supp.3d 404)
IM-DC-0082-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Cooper, Christopher Reid (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0082-0002 | IM-DC-0082-0003 | IM-DC-0082-0004 | IM-DC-0082-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barringer, Steven G. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0082-0001 | IM-DC-0082-9000
Copeland, Gregory Paul (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0082-0001 | IM-DC-0082-9000
Gillman, Sarah Telo (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0082-0001 | IM-DC-0082-9000
Heller, Caroline (New York) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0082-0001 | IM-DC-0082-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hair, Christopher Charles (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0082-9000
Reuveni, Erez (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0082-9000

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