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Ramirez v. U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 30, 2018

WILMER GARCIA RAMIREZ, et al., Plaintiffs.
v.
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION RE DOCUMENT 6, 36 DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' AMENDED COMPLAINT; GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs-three immigrants teenagers who entered the United States as unaccompanied alien children-bring this putative class action against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the Acting Director of ICE, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), and the Secretary of Homeland Security. They allege that upon reaching their respective eighteenth birthdays, Defendants transferred them to adult detention facilities without considering less restrictive placements in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B). Plaintiffs also contend that Defendants routinely and systematically fail to abide by this statutory provision.

         At an earlier stage of this litigation, this Court granted a motion for preliminary injunction filed on behalf of Plaintiffs Wilmer Garcia Ramirez and Sulma Hernandez Alfaro. See generally Ramirez v. ICE, 310 F.Supp.3d 7 (D.D.C. 2018). Finding that Mr. Garcia Ramirez and Ms. Hernandez Alfaro had shown that they were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that ICE had not complied with 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B) in placing them, that they would suffer irreparable harm absent injunctive relief, and that both a balancing of the equities and public interest considerations favored Plaintiffs, the Court ordered Defendants to comply with 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B) in placing Mr. Garcia Ramirez and Ms. Hernandez Alfaro. See Id. at 25-34. Now before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint-a filing that largely retreads ground tentatively resolved at the preliminary injunction stage-and Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. For the reasons explained below, the Court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss and grants Plaintiffs' motion for class certification.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Statutory and Regulatory Framework

         Most immigration enforcement functions are carried out by DHS, in which ICE is housed. See 6 U.S.C. §§ 111, 251, 291; 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a)(1). Congress established a different legal framework, however, for the care and custody of “unaccompanied alien children”-defined as children under age eighteen, who have no lawful immigration status in the United States and no parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody. 6 U.S.C. § 279(g)(2). Except in exceptional circumstances, unaccompanied minors apprehended by immigration officials are transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). See 8 U.S.C. § 1232(b)(3). The Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”), a division of HHS, is thereafter responsible for, among other things, “coordinating and implementing the care and placement” of such children. 6 U.S.C. § 279(a)-(b)(1)(A). Congress has established that these children “shall be promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child” and that “[i]n making such placements, the Secretary [of HHS] may consider danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight.” 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(A).

         HHS only has authority over the care and custody of immigrant children, however. See 6 U.S.C. § 279. And, of course, children do not stay children forever. Congress accounted for that fact of life, extending certain protections to newly adult immigrants who were formerly in the care and custody of HHS. Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B):

If [an unaccompanied alien child in the custody of the Secretary of HHS] reaches 18 years of age and is transferred to the custody of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary [of DHS] shall consider placement in the least restrictive setting available after taking into account the alien's danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight. Such aliens shall be eligible to participate in alternative to detention programs, utilizing a continuum of alternatives based on the alien's need for supervision, which may include placement of the alien with an individual or an organizational sponsor, or in a supervised group home.

         Under this provision, DHS must “tak[e] into account” specified statutory factors and must “consider” placement in the least restrictive setting for those who aged out of HHS's jurisdiction. See Id. But, unlike unaccompanied minors, these individuals are not promised placement in the least restrictive setting. Compare 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(A), with 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B).

         B. Factual Background

         Plaintiffs in this case are three immigrant teenagers who were previously held in ORR custody as unaccompanied alien children. See First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 33, 46, 61, ECF No. 21. Upon turning eighteen, they were transferred to the custody of ICE and placed in adult detention facilities, purportedly without receiving statutorily mandated consideration of less restrictive placement options. See Id. ¶¶ 1, 4, 13-15. They seek to represent a class defined as:

All former unaccompanied alien children who are detained or will be detained by ICE after being transferred by ORR because they have turned 18 years of age and as to whom ICE did not consider placement in the least restrictive setting available, including alternative to detention programs, as required by 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B).

         Pl.'s Mot. for Class Certification & Supp. Points of L. & Auth. ¶ 3 (“Pls.' Mot. for Class Cert.”), ECF No. 6. This Court's Opinion at the preliminary injunction stage of this litigation described the circumstances that led Plaintiffs Garcia Ramirez and Hernandez Alfaro to enter the United States as unaccompanied alien children and detailed the events that led up to this lawsuit. See Ramirez, 310 F.Supp.3d at 12-16. For the sake of completeness, the Court recounts that history here. The Court also provides background details about the third named Plaintiff, Ana P., who joined this litigation after the motion for preliminary injunction had been filed and partly briefed. See Id. at 12 n.1 (noting that the Court limited its consideration of Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction to Mr. Garcia Ramirez and Ms. Hernandez Alfaro); see also Docket Sheet, Civ. A. No. 18-cv-508-RC.

         1. Wilmer Garcia Ramirez

         According to Plaintiffs' complaint, Wilmer Garcia Ramirez was born into poverty in Guatemala in 1999. See First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 20-21. At six years old, he began working in his family's fields, cutting underbrush with a machete. Id. ¶ 21. By eight, he was laboring for nine or more hours each day in other people's fields. Id. ¶ 22. From ages nine to sixteen, Mr. Garcia Ramirez worked at coffee plantations in Guatemala and Honduras for months at a time, where he endured difficult working and living conditions. See Id. ¶¶ 23-30. In March 2017, when he was seventeen years old, Mr. Garcia Ramirez entered the United States without inspection in search of a better life. See Id. ¶ 31. After crossing the border, he was apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. See Id. ¶ 33. Upon learning that he was an unaccompanied alien child, DHS officials transferred Mr. Garcia Ramirez to ORR custody. Id. ¶ 33.

         While in ORR custody, Mr. Garcia Ramirez petitioned the Superior Court of Arizona to declare him a dependent of the State due to his parent's neglect in Guatemala. Id. ¶ 34. The court granted the petition, finding that it was not in Mr. Garcia Ramirez's best interest to be returned to Guatemala. Id. ¶ 34; Order Regarding Child's Eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status as to Mother, Ex. C, ECF No. 2-4. Mr. Garcia Ramirez then filed a petition for special immigration juvenile status (“SIJS”), seeking lawful permanent residency in the United States based on the neglect finding. First Am. Compl. ¶ 35; Notice of Action, Ex. B, ECF No. 2-3. That petition remained pending at the time that this lawsuit was filed. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 36.

         The day before Mr. Garcia Ramirez turned eighteen years old, his attorney contacted an ICE deportation officer to request that he be released on his own recognizance, citing the facts that removal proceedings against him had been administratively closed, that he had plans to live with a family friend in Pennsylvania, and that he had pending an SIJS petition. See Email from Noriana C. Hermes (Sept. 22, 2017), Ex. D at 7, ECF No. 20-4. The deportation officer denied the request, asserting only that ICE intended to reopen removal proceedings. See Email from Deportation Officer (Sept. 22, 2017), Ex. D at 9, ECF No. 20-4. The next day, on Mr. Garcia Ramirez's eighteenth birthday, he was transferred from ORR custody to ICE custody. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 38.

         At an ICE field office in Phoenix, Arizona, officials determined that Mr. Garcia Ramirez should be held without bond. See Decl. of Michael Leal (“Leal Decl.”) ¶ 6, Ex. E, ECF No. 20-5. The next day, ICE transferred Mr. Garcia Ramirez to Eloy Detention Center (“EDC”), an adult detention facility in Eloy, Arizona. Id. At EDC, detention officers utilized the Risk Classification Assessment-a database tool that assists DHS officials in assessing whether an alien who is not subject to mandatory detention poses a danger to the community or poses a flight risk-to determine Mr. Garcia Ramirez's custody classification level. Id. ¶ 7. Based in part on the results of that assessment, officials classified him as a level 1 detainee-the lowest custody level at EDC-and housed him with other level 1 or low level 2 detainees, who have no criminal history or only a minor, non-violent criminal history. Id.

         Mr. Garcia Ramirez twice initiated processes for requesting reconsideration of his placement in an adult detention facility. First, in November 2017, he requested a custody redetermination hearing before an immigration judge. See Mot. for Custody Redetermination Hr'g, Ex. E at 9-12, ECF No. 20-5. A bond hearing was scheduled. See Notice of Custody Redetermination Hr'g in Immigration Proceedings, Ex. E at 13, ECF No. 20-5. Mr. Garcia Ramirez later moved to vacate the hearing, however, explaining that a potential sponsor could no longer assist with his bond. See Unopposed Mot. to Vacate Bond Hr'g, Ex. E at 15, ECF No. 20-5.

         Second, through counsel, Mr. Garcia Ramirez sent a letter to ICE in January 2018, requesting release to the least restrictive setting available pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B). Letter from Néstor Allende-Asparó to Justin Laub (Jan. 5, 2018), Ex. E at 20-23, ECF No. 20-5; Decl. of Néstor Allende-Asparó (“Allende-Asparó Decl.”) ¶ 6, Ex. A, ECF No. 23-1. Counsel contends that he received no response to that letter. See Allende-Asparó Decl. ¶¶ 7-10. During this litigation, however, ICE produced a letter, dated January 23, 2018 and addressed to Mr. Garcia Ramirez's counsel, which purports to respond to counsel's request. See Letter from Albert E. Carter to Néstor Allende-Asparó (Jan. 23, 2018), Ex. E at 24, ECF No. 20-5. Interpreting the request as a bid for “prosecutorial discretion in the form of release from custody, ” the ICE deputy field office director of the Phoenix Field Office denied the request on the basis that “the totality of circumstances d[id] not support a favorable exercise of discretionary authority in this case.” Id. According to Mr. Garcia Ramirez's counsel, ICE did not discuss alternatives to detention with him at any time before or after Mr. Garcia Ramirez's eighteenth birthday. Allende-Asparó Decl. ¶ 5. Mr. Garcia Ramirez remained detained at EDC when this lawsuit was initiated in March 2018. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 38.

         2. Sulma Hernandez Alfaro

         Sulma Hernandez Alfaro was born in 2000 in Honduras. Id. ¶ 41. In Honduras, she was subjected to multiple forms of abuse by members of her father's family, including and especially her uncle, who threatened her with death. Id. ¶ 43. Because of the abuse that she suffered and the threats that she faced, Ms. Hernandez Alfaro left Honduras and travelled to the United States, seeking safety. Id. ¶ 44. In September 2016, she crossed into the United States without inspection. See Id. ¶ 45. A Border Patrol unit apprehended her and, after determining that she was an unaccompanied immigrant child, transferred her to the custody of ORR. Id.

         ORR placed Ms. Hernandez Alfaro in a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in San Benito, Texas. Id. ¶ 46. While in ORR custody, she was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which resulted from the abuse she suffered in Honduras. Id. ¶ 47. In November 2017, Ms. Hernandez Alfaro applied for asylum based on the abuse and harm she had experienced. See Notice of Action, Ex. D, ECF No. 2-5; First Am. Compl. ¶ 48. That application remained pending when this lawsuit was filed in March 2018. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 48.

         On January 16, 2018, just days before Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's eighteenth birthday, an ICE deportation officer emailed the shelter where she was being housed to confirm that she would soon age out of ORR's jurisdiction and “that there [were] no reunification plans, so [ICE] c[ould] make arrangements to have her placed in the appropriate adult facility.” Email from Deportation Officer (Jan. 15, 2018), Ex. B at 9, ECF No. 20-2. A case manager for the shelter responded, explaining that ORR had attempted several times to reunify Ms. Hernandez Alfaro with relatives, but that each of the potential sponsors did not meet ORR sponsorship requirements. See Email (Jan. 16, 2018), Ex. B at 8, ECF No. 20-2; see also Decl. of Jose Cortez (“Cortez Decl.”) ¶ 20, Ex. B, ECF No. 20-2. The email included a copy of a “Post 18 Plan” crafted for Ms. Hernandez Alfaro, which included information about ORR's unsuccessful reunification attempts. See Post 18 Safety Plan, Ex. B at 10-11, ECF No. 20-2; see also Cortez Decl. ¶ 21.

         When Ms. Hernandez Alfaro turned eighteen, ORR transferred her to ICE's custody. First Am. Compl. ¶ 49. According to Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer (“SDDO” or “Officer”) Jose A. Cortez, on January 18, 2018, Deportation Officer Anthony Martinez initiated an electronic risk classification assessment to determine whether to release, detain, or consider alternatives to detention for Ms. Hernandez Alfaro. Cortez Decl. ¶ 22. Officer Cortez contends that Ms. Hernandez Alfaro was determined to pose a high risk of absconding due to not having a sponsor or fixed, permanent address in the United States at which she had lived for at least six months. Id. Officer Martinez purportedly recommended that Ms. Hernandez Alfaro be detained, a decision with which Mr. Cortez contends he agreed. Id. ¶ 23. DHS placed Ms. Hernandez Alfaro at Port Isabel Detention Center (“PIDC”), an adult detention facility in Los Fresnos, Texas. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 14.

         Like Mr. Garcia Ramirez, Ms. Hernandez Alfaro requested changes in her state of confinement. First, on February 2, 2018, Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's counsel faxed a letter to Deportation Officer Robert Cantu, requesting that she be released on her own recognizance. See Letter from Rosemary Gonzalez to Robert Cantu (Feb. 2, 2018) (“2/2/18 Letter”), Ex. H at 2-4, ECF No. 2-9; Decl. of Rosemary Gonzalez (“Gonzalez Decl.”) ¶ 7, Ex. B, ECF No. 23-2. The letter mentioned the special statutory protections afforded to unaccompanied immigrant children and contended that Ms. Hernandez Alfaro was neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community. 2/2/18 Letter at 3-4. Counsel also asserted that Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's placement in an adult detention facility had worsened her post-traumatic stress symptoms. Id. Counsel presented an alternative to her client's placement: La Posada Providencia, a transitional shelter that had agreed to take in Ms. Hernandez Alfaro upon her release from the detention facility. See Id. at 4; Letter from Monica Pena-Rasmussen, Client Coordinator, La Posada Providencia (Jan. 17, 2018), Ex. I, ECF No. 2-10. According to counsel, she followed up with several calls to Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's deportation officer, however, her calls went unanswered. Gonzalez Decl. ¶¶ 8-9.

         Five days later, Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's counsel visited PIDC and met briefly with Officer Cantu in the facility lobby. See Gonzalez Decl. ¶¶ 10-11; Decl. of Robert Cantu (“Cantu Decl.”) ¶¶ 6-7, Ex. A, ECF No. 20-1. According to counsel, she mentioned her prior request for her client's release, noting that she had appended a letter of support from La Posada Providencia. Gonzalez Decl. ¶ 11. Counsel also explained, among other things, that Ms. Hernandez Alfaro had been classified as an unaccompanied alien child upon her arrival in the United States, that she had applied for asylum, and that she had already completed an asylum interview. Id. According to counsel, during the lobby meeting, Officer Cantu stated that he had not reviewed the materials that she had submitted on behalf of her client. Id. ¶ 12. Counsel also recalls that Officer Cantu rejected La Posada Providencia as a placement option-contending that many individuals released to the shelter abscond-and that Officer Cantu stated that he would not release Ms. Hernandez Alfaro because she had no other family in the United States and he would only consider releasing her to a family member. Id. ¶ 14. The Officer purportedly gave counsel no indication that he had independently considered any less restrictive placements than adult detention for Ms. Hernandez Alfaro. See Id. ¶ 17.

         While Officer Cantu agrees that he rejected La Posada Providencia as a placement option, he otherwise depicts the conversation differently. See Cantu Decl. ¶¶ 6-7. He contends that he verbally denied counsel's request “after taking all relevant facts into consideration, including [Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's] illegal entry to the United States as an unaccompanied alien minor, her current age, the copy of her birth certificate, her lack of criminal history, her lack of strong family ties in the United States, the lack of a fixed, permanent address, the lack of a dependable sponsor, and her pending application [for asylum].” Id. ¶ 8. According to Officer Cantu, he reviewed a file that contained certain information about Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's case, including the letter from La Posada, before speaking with counsel and rejecting the request. See Id. ¶¶ 10- 15.

         Ms. Hernandez Alfaro next sought a change in her custody at a bond hearing before an immigration judge in March 2018. See Mot. for Custody Redetermination, Ex. A at 8-10, ECF No. 20-1. The immigration judge granted her request, ordering her release from custody under bond of $10, 000. See Order of the Immigration Judge with Respect to Custody, Ex. A at 32, ECF No. 20-1. Ms. Hernandez Alfaro remained detained at PIDC at the time that this suit was filed in March 2018. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 14.

         3. Ana P.

         Ana P. was born in 2000 in El Paraiso, a town in the department of Sonsonate, El Salvador. See First Am. Compl. ¶ 53. At age fifteen, she bore a child. See Id. ¶ 55. Strained financially and in need of a job to support her child, Ana secured employment in a neighboring town. See Id. ¶ 57. On her way home from work one day, Ana contends that she was stopped by two masked gang members, who demanded money from her. Id. ¶ 58. After Ana told them that she had no money to give, they purportedly ordered her not to return to the area and threatened her with death if she did so. See Id. Seeking to avoid the violence in El Salvador, Ana and her child travelled by bus to the United States in January 2018. See Id. ¶ 60. After the pair entered the country at a port of entry, U.S. Customs agents determined that both Ana and her child were unaccompanied alien children. See Id. ¶ 61. Both mother and child were transferred to ORR custody and placed in a shelter in New York. See id.

         According to Ana, on her eighteenth birthday in February 2018, she was told to report to a government office at 5 a.m. See Id. ¶ 62. Officials told her not to bring her child. See Id. When Ana arrived at the office, two ICE officers arrested her and transferred her to the Bergen County Jail. See Id. Ana contends that, at the time that she joined this lawsuit in late March 2018, she had not seen or talked to her child since her transfer to an adult detention facility. See Id. ¶ 63.

         Like the other two named Plaintiffs, Ana sought to change her state of confinement. On March 15, 2018, she submitted a request for release on humanitarian parole under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5). See Id. ¶ 66. That request was pending when Ana joined this lawsuit. See Id. Ana also identified a willing sponsor for her and her child: friends of her child's father's family who live in Texas and who Ana met in 2017. See Id. ¶ 65. According to Plaintiffs' complaint, Ana had submitted the necessary paperwork to ORR and preparations for her release to the proposed sponsor had been underway when she turned eighteen. See id.

         Defendants supply a declaration from Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer Linda Hyde, who contends that she made the custody determination for Ana P. when she was transferred out of an ORR facility and into ICE custody. See Decl. of Linda Hyde (“Hyde Decl.”) ¶ 1-2, Ex. B, ECF No. 31-2. According to Officer Hyde, ORR contacted her on the afternoon before Ana's eighteenth birthday, stating that Ana would need to be transferred out of ORR's care. See Id. ¶ 3. ORR informed Officer Hyde that it had declined to release Ana and her child to a proposed sponsor due to a host of concerns about that potential placement. See Id. (listing concerns about, among other things, the lack of a preexisting relationship between Ana and the proposed sponsor and an “observed pattern” of the potential sponsor allowing former unaccompanied minors to leave his care after they turned eighteen). In response to that communication, Officer Hyde instructed ORR to “please go ahead, [and] release” Ana and her child, if ORR had located a different, suitable sponsor. See Id. ¶ 4; see also Email from Linda Hyde (Feb. 16, 2018) (“Hyde Email”) at 9, Ex. B, ECF No. 31-2. Officer Hyde noted that if ORR had not located a viable sponsor, Ana P. would be transferred to an adult detention facility and the child would remain in ORR's care. See Hyde Decl. ¶ 4; Hyde Email at 9.

         According to Officer Hyde, based on her review of initial communications with and the facts provided by ORR, she concluded that releasing Ana to the proposed sponsor was not appropriate and, at that time, she was “unaware” of any halfway house or shelter that might accept Ana. Hyde Decl. ¶ 4. Given that Ana had no suitable fixed address and no family connections in the United States, Officer Hyde concluded that she posed a significant flight risk and that she was not eligible to participate in alternative to detention programs. Id. ¶ 5. Officer Hyde states that she could not identify other appropriate, viable measures that could alleviate Ana's risk of flight while also ensuring her safety. Id. After considering that Ana had no criminal record or history of violence and that she did not appear to be a danger to herself or to others, Officer Hyde concluded that Ana should be transferred to an adult detention facility. Id. Given Ana's lack of criminal history and the fact that she did not appear to be dangerous, DHS housed her in the least restrictive detention setting at Bergen County Jail. Id. ¶ 6.

         C. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs Garcia Ramirez and Hernandez Alfaro filed this putative class action in March 2018, contending that ICE had not complied with 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B) in placing them and asserting that ICE systematically fails to abide by this statutory provision in placing former unaccompanied minors who age out of ORR's jurisdiction. See generally Compl., ECF No. 1. Shortly after, Mr. Garcia Ramirez and Ms. Hernandez Alfaro asked this Court to enter a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction ordering ICE to comply with the statutory provision. See Mot. Temp. Restraining Ord. & Prelim. Injunction, ECF No. 2. After a hearing held just three days after the motion was filed, this Court denied the motion for a temporary restraining order, explaining that, given the dearth of evidence on record, Plaintiffs had not met their burden of showing a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits. Tr. of Temp. Restraining Ord. Mot. Hr'g (Mar. 8, 2018) at 37:1-9, ECF No. 19. The Court noted that it would consider Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction-but only as to the two named Plaintiffs rather than as to the entire proposed class-after the parties had investigated and fully briefed the request. See Tr. of Temp. Restraining Ord. Mot. Hr'g (Mar. 8, 2018) at 37:11-19, ECF No. 19. After the Government submitted its opposition to Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, which added Ana P. to this action as a named Plaintiff. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 21.

         On April 18, 2018, this Court granted Plaintiffs Garcia Ramirez and Hernandez Alfaro's motion for preliminary injunction. See Ramirez v. ICE, 310 F.Supp.3d 7, 34 (D.D.C. 2018). In doing so, the Court first rejected Defendants' arguments that several justiciability barriers precluded the Court from granting the requested relief. See Id. at 17-25. Specifically, the Court disagreed with Defendants' contentions that this lawsuit was moot at the time that it was filed, that Plaintiffs had not identified a “final agency action” subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that Plaintiffs had an adequate alternative remedy in the form of bond hearings through which they could seek relief for their purported injuries. See Id. In assessing the merits of Plaintiffs' request for preliminary injunction, the Court found that Plaintiffs Garcia Ramirez and Hernandez Alfaro were likely to succeed in showing that DHS had not complied with 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B) in placing them, that Plaintiffs had shown that they would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction, and that both a balancing of the equities and public interest considerations favored Plaintiffs. See Id. at 25-34. The Court ordered Defendants to comply with 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B) in placing Mr. Garcia Ramirez and Ms. Hernandez Alfaro. Id. at 34. In addition, the Court required Defendants to memorialize their assessments to allow the Court to determine whether the agency had considered the factors required by statute. See id.

         On May 2, 2018, Defendants responded to the Court's Order, appending declarations from the ICE Officers charged with considering the relevant statutory factors and with placing Plaintiffs Garcia Ramirez and Hernandez Alfaro. See Defs.' Resp. to the Court's Ord. of Apr. 18, 2018 to Comply with 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B) with Regard to Two Named Plaintiffs, ECF No. 30. The first declaration memorialized the process of determining a placement for Ms. Hernandez Alfaro. See Decl. Jose A. Cortez, Ex. A, ECF No. 30-1. According to Officer Jose A. Cortez, ICE first attempted to identify potential individual and organizational sponsors who could provide a fixed, stable address and who could financially support Ms. Hernandez Alfaro. See Id. ¶ 3. ICE identified five such potential sponsors, see Id. ¶¶ 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, however, it concluded that none of the options were viable sponsors for a host of reasons. See Id. ¶¶ 6 (finding the first potential sponsor unviable due to unavailability and the potential sponsor's own risk of flight), 8 (finding the second potential sponsor unavailable), 10 (finding that a third potential sponsor could not be located), 12 (determining that a fourth potential sponsor likely would not provide sufficient oversight or accountability to reduce Plaintiff's risk of absconding), 15-16 (finding a sixth potential sponsor unviable due to her attenuated relationship with Plaintiff and her inability to financially support Plaintiff). According to Officer Cortez, ICE also considered enrolling Ms. Hernandez Alfaro in an alternative-to-detention program. See Id. ¶ 18. However, it determined that she did not qualify for such a program because she lacked a sponsor and a valid sponsor's residential address. See Id. In Officer Cortez's declaration, he described ICE's determinations regarding Ms. Hernandez Alfaro's risk of flight, danger to self, and danger to others. See Id. ¶¶ 19-23. According to Officer Cortez, ICE regarded Ms. Hernandez Alfaro as a significant flight risk because she lacked lawful immigration status, had minimal family and community ties, failed to provide a reliable fixed address in the United States, had no prior residence in the United States, and entered the United States without inspection by an immigration officer. Id. ¶ 19. ICE did not regard Ms. Hernandez as a danger to herself or to others. Id. ¶ 20.

         Based on Officer Cortez's assessment, he concluded that Ms. Hernandez Alfaro should remain in ICE custody. See Id. ¶ 21. On April 25, 2018, after evaluating Ms. Hernandez Alfaro based on federal detention standards, ICE determined that she should remain classified as Level 1-Low Custody and, accordingly, that she should continue to be housed in the least restrictive housing unit available in an adult detention facility. See Id. ¶ 25. Ms. Hernandez Alfaro ultimately remained detained for only a short time longer, though. See Id. ¶ 26. On April 30, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service provided a copy to ICE of its decision granting Ms. Hernandez Alfaro legal immigration status in the United States. See Id. Because Ms. Hernandez Alfaro was no longer subject to removal, she was released from ICE custody. See id.

         The second declaration submitted by Defendants memorialized ICE Officer Andrew Swierski's consideration of the statutory factors outlined at 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B) and his determination of a placement for Mr. Garcia Ramirez. See Decl. of Andrew Swierski, Ex. B, ECF No. 30-2. First, Officer Swierski explained that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr. Garcia Ramirez-who has no known criminal record and had no record of disciplinary infractions while in ICE detention-would pose a danger to himself or to the community. See Id. ¶ 7. Next, Officer Swierski found that, because Mr. Garcia Ramirez had entered the United States without proper documentation and had limited family and community ties in the United States, he posed a risk of flight. See Id. ¶ 8. In light of these findings, Officer Swierski next considered Mr. Garcia Ramirez for ICE's alternative-to-detention programs, which would permit Mr. Garcia Ramirez to be released on his own recognizance subject to certain conditions. See Id. ¶ 9.

         According to his declaration, Officer Swierski considered a handful of possible release conditions. See Id. ¶ 10. First, he considered releasing Mr. Garcia Ramirez subject only to periodic reporting. See Id. Officer Swierski rejected this possibility, however, because Mr. Garcia Ramirez had no significant community or family ties, no place of employment in the United States, and had not lived in the United States for a long period of time. See Id. The officer reasoned that periodic reporting would not sufficiently mitigate Mr. Garcia Ramirez's risk of flight. See Id. Next, Officer Swierski considered releasing Mr. Garcia Ramirez with both periodic reporting and ankle monitoring conditions. See Id. ¶ 11. Officer Swierski regarded this option as the least restrictive placement available for Mr. Garcia Ramirez, and concluded that the combination of these two conditions would adequately alleviate Mr. Garcia Ramirez's risk of flight. See Id. Officer Swierski then considered additional placement options: release to an organizational sponsor or supervised group home and release on bond. See Id. ¶¶ 12-13. Officer Swierski rejected these options, though, because he did not know of a viable organization or group home to which to release Mr. Garcia Ramirez and because he reasoned that, compared with the viable option of release subject to reporting and ankle monitoring, release under bond would be more restrictive. See Id. In light of Officer Swierski's analysis, on April 27, 2018, DHS released Mr. Garcia Ramirez on his own recognizance subject to ankle monitoring and periodic reporting. See Id. ¶ 14.

         Unrelated to the Court's order, Ana P.'s status has also changed since the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. See Pls.' Reply Supp. Mot. for Class Cert. at 7, ECF No. 37; Letter from Thomas Decker to Ana P. (May 11, 2018) (“Decker Letter”), Ex. 1, ECF No. 37-2. On May 11, 2018, Ana P. was granted humanitarian parole and released from detention pending the outcome of her immigration proceedings. See Decker Letter.

         Now before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint and Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. See Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Pls.' Am. Compl. (“Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss”), ECF No. 36; Pls.' Mot. for Class Cert., ECF No. 6. Both motions are ripe for the Court's consideration.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In this putative class action, Plaintiffs assert that when they turned eighteen years old and were transferred from HHS custody to DHS custody, DHS placed them in adult detention facilities without considering less restrictive placements in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B). They also contend that DHS routinely and systematically fails to abide by this statutory provision. Presently before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. For the reasons explained below, the Court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss and grants Plaintiffs' motion for class certification.

         A. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         The Court first considers Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint, which argues that (1) Plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claims, (2) Plaintiffs' claims are moot, (3) Plaintiffs may not properly bring their claims under the Administrative Procedure Act, and (4) Plaintiffs have failed to state any claims upon which relief may be granted. Disagreeing on all fronts, this Court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss.[1]

         1. Legal Standards

         a. Federal Rules of Civil ...


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