C.F.C. v. Miami-Dade Cnty.

Decision Date14 December 2018
Docket NumberCASE No. 18-CV-22956-KMW
Citation349 F.Supp.3d 1236
Parties C.F.C., et al., Plaintiffs, v. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida

Alana J. Greer, Oscar Hernan Londono, Community Justice Project, Inc., Corey Daniel Berman, Mark Ian Pinkert, Nicole Jordan Comparato, Pravin Rajesh Patel, Edward Soto, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Miami, FL, Rebecca Ann Sharpless, University of Miami School of Law, Coral Gables, FL, for Plaintiffs.

Michael Beny Valdes, Ana Angelica Viciana, Miami-Dade County Attorney's Office, Miami, FL, for Defendants.



THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Miami-Dade County's ("County") motion to dismiss (DE 23). Plaintiffs C.F.C., S.C.C., WeCount!, Inc. ("WeCount"), and Florida Immigrant Coalition, Inc. ("FLIC") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed a response in opposition (DE 32), and Defendant replied (DE 36). For the reasons below, the County's motion to dismiss is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Plaintiffs' motion for a hearing (DE 33) is DENIED AS MOOT.

I. Background

Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the County on July 20, 2018. (DE 1). On September 9, 2018, before Defendant had responded, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. (DE 22). The amended complaint alleges that the County's policy and practice of honoring detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") violates Plaintiffs' rights under both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and also the parallel provisions of the Florida state constitution. Id. Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief and money damages. Id.

For purposes of ruling on the motion to dismiss, the Court accepts the following facts alleged in the amended complaint and contained in the exhibits as true. Plaintiffs S.C.C. and C.F.C. are residents of Miami-Dade County, Florida. (DE 22 at 4). C.F.C. is also a member of WeCount. Id . Plaintiff WeCount is a "community-based, non-profit organization with a membership comprised of Florida residents." Id. at 5. Its stated mission is to "build the power of the immigrant community of Homestead through education, support, and collective action." Id. Plaintiff FLIC is a "non-profit statewide coalition of more than 65 member organizations and over 100 allies" whose stated mission is to "grow the connection, capacity, and consciousness of immigrant families, organizations and communities." Id.

On June 6, 2018, S.C.C. was arrested for driving with a suspended license and for driving without a valid license. Id. at 15. The arresting officer took S.C.C. to Metro West Detention Center. Id. On June 7, 2018, ICE issued an immigration detainer request form listing S.C.C. as its subject. (DE 22, Ex. A). The detainer form stated that S.C.C. was "a removable alien" under civil immigration law and asked local law enforcement to hold him for up to 48 hours after he would otherwise be released from their custody. Id . Because of the detainer, S.C.C. was "not placed in a diversion program" at his arraignment and remained in the County's custody for over a month awaiting trial because he was not eligible for pretrial release. Id. at 15. S.C.C.'s criminal case was set for trial on July 16, 2018, but, after the state attorney requested a continuance in the case, the state court judge reduced S.C.C.'s bail to $2.00, which S.C.C. paid on July 20, 2018. Id. Instead of releasing S.C.C. after he paid bail, the County re-arrested him based on the detainer from ICE and held him until the following day, July 21, 2018, when ICE took custody of S.C.C. and moved him to an ICE detention facility. Id. at 16.

On May 12, 2018, while out shopping with her family, C.F.C. was involved in a minor car accident in the parking lot of a grocery store. Id. at 16. Police officers from the Homestead Police Department arrived and, after speaking with C.F.C. and the other driver, arrested C.F.C. for driving without a license. Id. at 17. C.F.C.'s family paid her bail that day. Id. Despite the fact that an unknown officer told C.F.C. she would be released at 4:00 p.m. on May 12, 2018, the County refused to release her and instead re-arrested her pursuant to a detainer from ICE. Id. On May 14, 2018, ICE took custody of C.F.C. and, at the time of the amended complaint, she remained in ICE's custody. Id.

The detainer forms issued for both S.C.C. and C.F.C. did not allege probable cause to believe that they had committed a crime and the detainers were not issued by a neutral magistrate. Id. at 3. Instead, the detainer form asserted that "[p]robable cause exists that [S.C.C] is a removable alien" and, as support for this assertion, a box on S.C.C.'s detainer form had been checked next to an option stating that ICE's probable cause was based on "biometric confirmation of the subject's identity and a records check of federal databases that affirmatively indicate, by themselves or in addition to other reliable information, that the subject either lacks immigration status or notwithstanding such status is removable under U.S. immigration law." (DE 22, Ex. A).1

S.C.C. and C.F.C. allege that the County re-arrested them on July 20, 2018 and May 12, 2018, respectively, pursuant to a recent change in policy that, in effect, requires Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation Department ("MDCR") staff to "honor all immigration detainer requests." (DE 22 at 28). This policy reversed the County's previous policy, which had been in place since December 2013 and significantly circumscribed the County's authority to arrest individuals pursuant to immigration detainer requests. Id. at 10-11. The 2013 policy stated that MDCR could honor detainer requests from ICE only if (1) "the federal government agrees in writing to reimburse Miami-Dade County for any and all costs relating to compliance with [ICE] detainer requests"; (2) "the inmate that is the subject of such a request has a previous conviction for a Forcible Felony ..."; and (3) the inmate has, at the time the County received the detainer request, "a pending charge of a non-bondable offense ...." Miami-Dade Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, Resolution 1008-13, at 5 (Dec. 3, 2013), http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/legistarfiles/MinMatters/Y2013/132196min.pdf. Because the federal government declined to reimburse the County for any expenses associated with detainers, MDCR stopped arresting individuals based on detainer requests in January 2014. (DE 22 at 10).

In 2016, the Board ratified its position when it unanimously opposed statewide legislation that would preempt its anti-detainer policy and "require ICE detainers to be honored." Id . Resolution 77-16, which the Board passed on January 20, 2016, cited the fact that "federal courts have found that local law enforcement agencies that detain individuals on the sole authority of a detainer request violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, exposing such agencies to legal liability unless there has been an independent finding of probable cause to justify detention." Id. The Board's resolution goes on to state that "while criminal detainers are subject to multiple procedural safeguards, including a requirement of court approval, [ICE] detainer requests lack comparable protections ... [because] a judge is not required to review or approve an immigration detainer." Miami-Dade Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, Resolution 77-16, at 5-6 (Jan. 20, 2016), http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/legistarfiles/MinMatters/Y2015/153028min.pdf. The Board noted that "a judge is not required to review or approve an immigration detainer," and that a detainer "may be issued by a single Immigration[ ] and Customs Enforcement officer when there are no immigration proceedings pending." Id. at 6. "[T]his process," the Board found, "does not meet the U.S. Constitution's minimum standard for authorizing detention after an inmate is scheduled to be released." Id .

Despite the County's2 clear position on the legality and efficacy of honoring all detainer requests, on January 26, 2017, Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez reversed course, issuing a memorandum to MDCR that ordered it to "honor all immigration detainer requests."3 (DE 22, Ex. B). The directive was not preceded by any public notice or opportunity for debate, nor did it mention the Board's 2013 resolution limiting MDCR's authority to hold people pursuant to detainer requests and the myriad legal concerns with honoring detainers.

On February 17, 2017, the Board ratified the Mayor's directive and amended its 2013 Resolution (1008-13) to direct the Mayor "to ensure that, related to immigration detainer requests, Miami-Dade County ... is cooperating with the federal government to the extent permissible by law." Miami-Dade Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, Resolution 163-17 (Feb. 17, 2017), http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/matter.asp?matter=170440&file=false&yearFolder=Y201.4 MDCR is following the Mayor's directive—as ratified by the Board's resolution—and, since January 26, 2017, has maintained a policy and practice of re-arresting individuals in its custody after their criminal custody has ended on the sole basis that the person is the subject of an immigration detainer request.

The amended complaint contains five counts against the County. Counts I and II are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and allege that the County violated Plaintiffs' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. (DE 22 at 27-30). Counts IV and V are brought under the parallel provisions of the Florida Constitution. Id. at 32-33. Count III is a claim for false imprisonment under Florida law. Id. at 30.

The amended complaint seeks: (1) an injunction prohibiting the County from detaining individuals pursuant to detainers without a judicial warrant or probable cause that the individual has committed a crime; (2) a declaration that the County's written policy of arresting people pursuant to immigration detainers is...

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