J.E.C.M. v. Lloyd, 1:18-cv-00903 (LMB/MSN)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtLeonie M. Brinkema, United States District Judge
Citation352 F.Supp.3d 559
Parties J.E.C.M., a Minor, BY AND THROUGH HIS NEXT FRIEND Jose Jimenez SARAVIA, et al., Plaintiffs/Petitioners, v. Scott LLOYD, Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, et al., Defendants/Respondents.
Docket Number1:18-cv-00903 (LMB/MSN)
Decision Date15 November 2018

352 F.Supp.3d 559

J.E.C.M., a Minor, BY AND THROUGH HIS NEXT FRIEND Jose Jimenez SARAVIA, et al., Plaintiffs/Petitioners,
v.
Scott LLOYD, Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, et al., Defendants/Respondents.

1:18-cv-00903 (LMB/MSN)

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division.

Signed November 15, 2018


352 F.Supp.3d 567

Rebecca Ruth Wolozin, Simon Yehuda Sandoval-Moshenberg, Legal Aid Justice Center, Falls Chruch, VA, Angela A. Ciolfi, Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, VA, John Christopher Rozendaal, Salvador Manuel Bezos, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox PLLC, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs/Petitioners.

Catherine M. Yang, US Attorney's Office, Alexandria, VA, for Defendants/Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Leonie M. Brinkema, United States District Judge

Plaintiffs/petitioners ("plaintiffs") in this

352 F.Supp.3d 568

putative class action1 are four minors from Central America designated as "unaccompanied alien children" who are, or who have been, in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement ("ORR") and the four sponsors who filed family reunification applications on their behalf. Defendants/respondents ("defendants")2 are the minors' custodians and the officials responsible for administering ORR's policies with respect to the detention and release of unaccompanied minors. Plaintiffs allege that defendants' policies violate constitutional, statutory, and administrative law, and they seek declaratory and habeas relief as well as attorney's fees and costs. Before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim [Dkt. Nos. 35 and 36]. For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background 3

1. J.E.C.M.

J.E.C.M. is a 13-year-old Honduran boy. While in Honduras, J.E.C.M. and his family relied on his sister and his brother-in-law Jose Jimenez Saravia ("Jimenez Saravia"), who were living in the United States, for support. Second Am. Class Action Compl. and Pet. for a Writ of Habeas Corpus [Dkt. No. 21] ("Compl.") ¶¶ 90-91. He attended school and, despite living in a violent area, was never involved in any crime. Id. ¶¶ 91-92. Fearing persecution, J.E.C.M. fled Honduras in December 2017. Id. ¶¶ 90, 93. Upon reaching the United States in February 2018, he was promptly apprehended by agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), initially placed in a San Diego shelter, and subsequently transferred to a "staff secure" ORR facility in Washington state. Id. ¶¶ 93-94.

Jimenez Saravia completed a family reunification application on J.E.C.M.'s behalf. Although J.E.C.M.'s case manager prepared an ORR Release Notification indicating ORR had determined that J.E.C.M. should be released to Jimenez Saravia's custody, before J.E.C.M. could be released, he was involved in a physical altercation with an ORR staff member. Compl. ¶¶ 95-97. The staff member allegedly pushed J.E.C.M. into an emergency exit door, which opened and sent J.E.C.M. "tumbl[ing] out." He fled the ORR facility, hiding in a trash can for hours until police discovered him and took him to jail. Id. ¶¶ 96-97. As a result of this incident, J.E.C.M. was classified as a "runaway" and sent to the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, a high-security ORR facility

352 F.Supp.3d 569

where he lived with older, "at-risk" children and "was the target of constant bullying." Id. ¶¶ 97-99.

Although J.E.C.M.'s case manager had recommended that he be released to Jimenez Saravia, ORR insisted that all adult members of Jimenez Saravia's household had to provide biographical and biometric information to be used for background checks. Compl. ¶ 100. Several members of the household were reluctant to do so, fearing that the information would result in immigration enforcement. Id. This delayed the processing of Jimenez Saravia's application. Id. ORR ultimately decided to waive the identification and fingerprinting requirements, and on July 26, 2018—less than a week after this action was filed—J.E.C.M. was released to Jimenez Saravia's custody. Id. ¶ 102; Memo. of Law in Opp'n to Pls.' Mot. for Class Certification Ex. A [Dkt. No. 19-1] ¶ 17. Altogether, J.E.C.M. spent approximately six months in ORR custody. Compl. ¶¶ 93, 102. He claims to have suffered anxiety and depression as a result. Id. ¶ 101.

2. R.A.I.

R.A.I. is 15 years old. Compl. ¶ 117. She was born in Honduras and from the age of five was raised by her sister, Sandra Alvarado ("Alvarado"). Id. Fleeing from violence in their community and seeking better educational opportunities, R.A.I. and Alvarado came to the United States in April 2018. Id. ¶ 118. The two were separated at the border; Alvarado, an adult, was released on her own recognizance, but R.A.I. was handed over to ORR and sent to Youth for Tomorrow, a "shelter care" facility in Virginia. See id. ¶¶ 45, 119.

Alvarado moved to Maryland and applied to regain custody of R.A.I. Compl. ¶ 120. Her application was delayed for months because her roommates refused to provide identification or fingerprints to ORR. Id. Alvarado ultimately moved into a new home with other siblings living in Maryland, all of whom were willing to provide such information. Id. ¶ 121. Although R.A.I. was in ORR custody when defendants filed their motion to dismiss, see Memo. of Law in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 37] ("Defs.' Memo.") 10, she has since been released to Alvarado, see Reply Memo. of Law in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 53] ("Defs.' Reply") 2. She had spent six to seven months in ORR custody.

3. K.T.M.

K.T.M. is a 15-year-old boy who fled his home country of Honduras with his older sister Wendy "to escape violent and credible threats on his life after his father was murdered in front of him." Compl. ¶ 124. They hoped to reunite with K.T.M.'s other sister, Cynthia Velasquez Trail ("Velasquez Trail"), who had moved to the United States a few years earlier and with whom K.T.M. had remained in close contact. Id. Upon their arrival in the United States in March 2018, K.T.M. and Wendy were separated; Wendy went to live with Velasquez Trail, while K.T.M. was sent to Youth for Tomorrow. Id. ¶ 125.

Velasquez Trail submitted a family reunification application on K.T.M.'s behalf, but her application was also delayed at the documentation stage. Compl. ¶ 126. Although all adult members of Velasquez Trail's household agreed to provide biographical and biometric information to ORR, Wendy could not attend her initial fingerprint appointment because U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") officials had confiscated her identification card at the border. Id. The application was ultimately completed in early August 2018, id. ¶ 126, and K.T.M. was released to Velasquez Trail's custody in late September of that year, Pls.' Memo. of

352 F.Supp.3d 570

Law in Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 41] ("Pls.' Opp'n") 7 n.13. He had been in ORR custody for six to seven months.

4. B.G.S.S.

B.G.S.S. is a 17-year-old boy who in May 2018 came to the United States from Guatemala "to escape persecution and because his mother had passed away." Compl. ¶ 103. While in Guatemala, B.G.S.S. attended school and kept in close contact with his sister Blanca Jeronimo Sis ("Jeronimo Sis"), who was living in the United States. Id. ¶¶ 104-05. He had never been arrested for or charged with any crime. Id. ¶ 105.

After he was apprehended in the United States, B.G.S.S. was placed in a small ORR shelter of about 50 minors, where staff began work on family reunification. Compl. ¶ 106. After only 10 days, B.G.S.S. was transferred to Casa Padre, which plaintiffs describe as a "warehouse of about 1,500 children, housed in a converted Walmart." Id. Plaintiffs allege that B.G.S.S. "became depressed, irritable, and hopeless" after being transferred to Casa Padre and that he received several "significant incident reports" for things he said to ORR staff or other detainees, including "inappropriate but false claims about his age and about past and future violence." Id. ¶¶ 106-09.4 As a result, B.G.S.S. was sent to Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center, a "secure" facility that "serves both as an ORR facility and as a juvenile jail for minors ... who have been adjudicated delinquent." Id. ¶¶ 8, 109, 112.

Jeronimo Sis, who lives in Virginia, filed a family reunification application seeking custody of B.G.S.S. Comp. ¶ 113. Although she had provided her own identification and fingerprints as part of that application, ORR informed her that the application was incomplete and that it would require such information from all adult members of her household, "including her adult daughter and her partner." Id. ¶¶ 113-14. Jeronimo Sis's partner was "fearful of providing his information to ORR to be shared with ICE and used for immigration enforcement." Id. ¶ 114. Her daughter was similarly uncertain. See id. ORR employees told Jeronimo Sis that the only ways she could proceed with her application were to submit her partner's and daughter's information or to live separately from them. Id. Her partner and daughter have since moved out of the family home...

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2 practice notes
  • J.S.G. ex rel. Hernandez v. Stirrup, Civil Case No. SAG-20-1026
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 26 Abril 2020
    ...e.g., Mendez Ramirez v. Decker, No. 1:19-cv-11012-GHW, 2020 WL 1674011, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 3, 2020); JECM ex rel. Saravia v. Lloyd, 352 F. Supp. 3d 559, 588 (E.D. Va. 2018); Ramirez v. ICE, 310 F. Supp. 3d 7, 26-30 (D.D.C. 2018) (concluding that ICE detainees who aged out of ORR custody w......
  • J.S. v. Winchester Pediatric Clinic, P.C., Civil No. 5:19-CV-0097
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • 3 Marzo 2021
    ...premature adjudication, from entangling themselves in abstract disagreements. J.E.C.M. by and Through His Next Friend Saravia v. Lloyd, 352 F.Supp.3d 559, 576 (E.D. Va. 2018) (citing Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Comm'n, 220 F.3d 1134, 1138 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc); In re Naranjo, 768 F......
2 cases
  • J.S.G. ex rel. Hernandez v. Stirrup, Civil Case No. SAG-20-1026
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 26 Abril 2020
    ...e.g., Mendez Ramirez v. Decker, No. 1:19-cv-11012-GHW, 2020 WL 1674011, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 3, 2020); JECM ex rel. Saravia v. Lloyd, 352 F. Supp. 3d 559, 588 (E.D. Va. 2018); Ramirez v. ICE, 310 F. Supp. 3d 7, 26-30 (D.D.C. 2018) (concluding that ICE detainees who aged out of ORR custody w......
  • J.S. v. Winchester Pediatric Clinic, P.C., Civil No. 5:19-CV-0097
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • 3 Marzo 2021
    ...premature adjudication, from entangling themselves in abstract disagreements. J.E.C.M. by and Through His Next Friend Saravia v. Lloyd, 352 F.Supp.3d 559, 576 (E.D. Va. 2018) (citing Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Comm'n, 220 F.3d 1134, 1138 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc); In re Naranjo, 768 F......

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