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Case Name Alcantara v. Archambeault IM-CA-0176
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00756 ( S.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a habeas petition brought on behalf of medically vulnerable immigration detainees confined in two detention centers in California. The plaintiffs were granted a temporary restraining order and released from detention on April 30, 2020. The motion for preliminary ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a habeas petition brought on behalf of medically vulnerable immigration detainees confined in two detention centers in California. The plaintiffs were granted a temporary restraining order and released from detention on April 30, 2020. The motion for preliminary injunctions for both subclasses were denied on May 26 and July 22. The case remains ongoing.


This is a class action lawsuit regarding the immediate release of medically vulnerable immigration detainees from two immigration detention centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 21, 2020, numerous immigration detainees filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiffs sued the Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the senior warden and an officer at Otay Mesa Detention Center (OMDC), Field Office Director at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Calexico Assistant Field Office Director, Deputy Director of ICE, and Facility Administrator at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility (IRDF) for writs of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C § 2241. Specifically, they alleged violations of their Fifth Amendment right to due process by subjecting them to heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. Represented by private counsel and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the plaintiff sought writs of habeas corpus for immediate release of medically vulnerable detainees, or alternatively injunctive relief or a temporary restraining order ordering the immediate release, as well as declaratory relief and attorneys' fees. The case was assigned to Judge Dana M. Sabraw.

The plaintiffs alleged that in the Spring of 2020, outbreaks of COVID-19 at the detention facilities escalated and that ODMC had the highest number of confirmed cases out of any ICE facility in the country. They argued that the staff failed to take appropriate preventative measures, such as by failing to allow for social distancing in the barracks, dining, bathing, or recreation areas.

On the same day the petition was filed, the plaintiffs also filed motions for a temporary restraining order and for class certification. The plaintiffs requested a class-wide temporary restraining order directing the defendants to immediately release the Otay Mesa Medically Vulnerable subclass from custody , which included "all civil immigration detainees incarcerated at the Otay Mesa Detention Center who are age 45 or over or who have medical conditions that place them at heightened risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19." The plaintiffs also proposed an Imperial Class of "all civil immigration detainees incarcerated at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility" and an Imperial Medically Vulnerable Subclass of "all civil immigration detainees incarcerated at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility who are age 45 or over or who have medical conditions that place them at heightened risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19."

On April 30, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion for temporary restraining order, declaring that the conditions of confinement at OMDC were unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment. The court provisionally granted the OMDC Subclass and ordered the defendants to identify subclass members and immediately release them in a manner that comported with public health guidelines. On May 1, the court issued an order granting in part the class certification, modifying and provisionally certifying the Otay Mesa Medically Vulnerable subclass as "all civil immigration detainees incarcerated at the Otay Mesa Detention Center who are age 60 or over or who have medical conditions that place them at heightened risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 as determined by CDC guidelines." The court also confirmed its issuance of the temporary restraining order set forth in the April 30 order.

On May 4, 2020, the defendants filed a motion to amend or correct the order granting the temporary restraining order, contending that the court addressed the plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits after it declared that the conditions of confinement were unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment and erred in provisionally granting the Subclass. They requested that the court correct the April 30 order to clarify that it did not issue a ruling on the merits but rather found a likelihood of success on the merits. The court granted the defendants' motion in part, specifically correcting the language of the April 30 order to state that it found a likelihood of success on the merits.

In a May 11 supplemental briefing, the plaintiffs argued that, because they could continue to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim, the temporary restraining order should be converted to a preliminary injunction. However, on May 26, the court denied this request for a preliminary injunction, finding that the defendants instituted a number of new policies and practices to address the spread of COVID-19 at OMDC (such as suspending new admissions, screening all persons entering the facility, posting educational resources, increasing sanitation, providing masks to detainees, and requiring employees to wear personal protective equipment), had identified subclass members, and that most subclass members were being housed in units with no positive cases. The court thus found that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the due process claim.

On June 12, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction and writs of habeas corpus and to provisionally certify the IRDF class and subclass. Specifically, the plaintiffs requested that the court order the defendants to release all members of the IRDF subclass, reduce the population at the facility to allow for social distancing, and create a plan to protect those remaining (including implementing testing, social distancing, and cleaning protocols and providing personal hygiene and protective materials).

On July 22, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction and motion for class certification. The court held that IRDF had no active COVID-19 cases and thus, unlike OMDC, the plaintiffs failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits.

On August 10, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss and a joint motion to decertify the OMDC subclass, both of which the court denied on October 19.

On August 28, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion for relief from the May 26 order or, in the alternative, for preliminary injunction to establish a dispute resolution process regarding the OMDC subclass. The court denied this motion on November 12, stating that the plaintiffs failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits. The court stated that even though OMDC had resumed accepting new individuals, including individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19, that was not sufficient to warrant relief in light of the precautions being taken at OMDC. Furthermore, the court decided that although the plaintiffs' assertion that these new admissions were being housed with members of the OMDC subclass was potentially concerning, it was unclear whether it was actually happening.

The parties are currently engaged in discovery. This case is ongoing.

Zofia Peach - 04/09/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Granted
Mitigation Requested
Population-Medically vulnerable
Release Granted
Release granted-group
Release Requested
Release-process created/modified
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Habeas Corpus
Placement in detention facilities
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Immigration/Border
Constitutional rights
Detention - conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Acting Secretary
Calexico Field Office Director
Deputy Director
Facility Administrator
Officer in Charge
San Diego Field Office Director
Senior Warden
Plaintiff Description Medically vulnerable immigration detainees at Otay Mesa Detection Center and Imperial Regional Detention Facility
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
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
Filed 04/21/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
S.D. Cal.
03/18/2021
3:20-cv-00756-DMS-AHG
IM-CA-0176-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Cal.
04/21/2020
Complaint-Class Action and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0176-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
04/21/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Notice of Motion and Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 1-2]
IM-CA-0176-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
04/21/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Emergency Ex Parte Motion for Subclass-Wide Emergency Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction and Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 2]
IM-CA-0176-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
04/30/2020
Order Granting Plaintiff-Petitioners' Emergency Ex Parte Motion for Subclass-wide Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 38]
IM-CA-0176-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/01/2020
Order (1) Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and (2) Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Subclass-wide Emergency Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 41] (106 Fed.R.Serv.3d 931)
IM-CA-0176-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/06/2020
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Warden Larose's Emergency Ex Parte Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 54]
IM-CA-0176-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/26/2020
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 77] (462 F.Supp.3d 1073)
IM-CA-0176-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
06/12/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Notice of Motion and Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 83]
IM-CA-0176-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
07/22/2020
Order (1) Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction and (2) Denying without Prejudice Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 106] (2020 WL 4201665)
IM-CA-0176-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
10/19/2020
Order (1) Denying Defendants' Motion to Decertify Otay Mesa Subclass and (2) Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 130] (2020 WL 6131708)
IM-CA-0176-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
11/12/2020
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Relief from Order, or in the Alternative, for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 147] (2020 WL 6684940)
IM-CA-0176-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Goddard, Allison H. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Sabraw, Dana Makoto (S.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0004 | IM-CA-0176-0005 | IM-CA-0176-0006 | IM-CA-0176-0007 | IM-CA-0176-0009 | IM-CA-0176-0010 | IM-CA-0176-0011 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barczak, Eleanor (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Eber, Alexandra (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Galicki, Alexander (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Grano, Kimberly Robin (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0001 | IM-CA-0176-0002 | IM-CA-0176-0003 | IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Hemann, John H. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Langarica, Monika Yvette (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0001 | IM-CA-0176-0002 | IM-CA-0176-0003 | IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Loy, John David (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0001 | IM-CA-0176-0002 | IM-CA-0176-0003 | IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Markovitz, Jonathan Paul (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0001 | IM-CA-0176-0002 | IM-CA-0176-0003 | IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Vakili, Bardis (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-0001 | IM-CA-0176-0002 | IM-CA-0176-0003 | IM-CA-0176-0008 | IM-CA-0176-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Acedo, Nicholas Daniel (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Bettwy, Samuel William (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Boutelle, Betsey (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Church, Rebecca G. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Lee, Jacob B. (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Love, Rachel (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Mahoney, Matthew Miguel (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Rice, John J (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000
Struck, Daniel Patrick (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0176-9000

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