(formerly known as Doe v. Kelly)
In June 2015, the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit challenging the inhumane and unconstitutional conditions in detention facilities used by the U.S. Border Patrol in the Tucson Sector. The lawsuit comes after several months of investigation and fact-finding including interviews with 75 men and women who described appalling conditions including being detained in freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells for extended periods of time, no access to beds, soap, showers, adequate meals and water, medical care, and lawyers in violation of constitutional standards and Border Patrol’s own policies. The case was filed in federal district court in Tucson. Co-counsel in the case includes the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, the ACLU of Arizona, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Morrison & Foerster LLP.
Soon after filing the lawsuit, plaintiffs prevailed on a motion for expedited discovery allowing experts to visit specific Tucson Sector Border Patrol stations to gather evidence. The court also required the Border Patrol to produce certain information about their detention practices. When they destroyed some video recordings in violation of the court’s order, the court issued sanctions against them, requiring them to immediately produce video recordings and other data to us. On December 7, 2015, based on analysis of large amounts of evidence produced through the expedited discovery process, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the government’s unlawful detention practices while the lawsuit continues. We are waiting for a decision on the motion for a preliminary injunction. On January 11, 2016, the federal court granted plaintiffs’ motion allowing the case to continue as a class action and ruled against the government’s motion to dismiss the case, deciding that plaintiffs’ constitutional claims on behalf of migrants detained in the Tucson Sector could move forward.
Update: In June and August 2016, the court denied the government’s attempt to seal all the evidence filed with the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction asking the court to halt the unconstitutional conditions of detention while the case proceeds. The court’s ruling allowed for the public release of evidence, including photographs showing deplorable conditions in the detention cells, which gained significant media coverage.