Making a Positive Impact Together
February 20, 2020 - MoFo Pro Bono

MoFo Wins Verdict Holding Conditions in Customs & Border Protection Holding Cells Unconstitutional

MoFo Wins Verdict Holding Conditions in Customs & Border Protection Holding Cells Unconstitutional

In a groundbreaking decision, a federal district judge in Arizona granted a permanent injunction requiring a Customs & Border Protection (CBP) facility in Tucson to provide the civil detainees who are held there for more than 48 hours with a bed, blanket, shower, potable food and water, and a medical assessment, because the conditions former detainees suffered violate the U.S. Constitution.

“This is an excellent outcome and we look forward to its implementation,” said Morrison & Foerster partner Colette Reiner Mayer, one of the lawyers who tried the case, which is now known as Doe v. Wolf. “After years of collecting evidence and preparing and trying this case, the border detention facilities will no longer be allowed to violate the Constitution.”

Following a seven-day trial of the case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, the Honorable David C. Bury wrote an opinion stating that the class of plaintiffs, comprising tens of thousands of migrants, “must be afforded ‘more considerate treatment’ than even pretrial detainees, who are being criminally detained prior to trial.”

Witness testimony and 15 video stills submitted as exhibits corroborated the Complaint’s description of the Tucson Sector’s detention centers’ conditions. They depict people huddled under sheets of Mylar in jam-packed, brightly-lit rooms.

“Civil detainees in Border Patrol stations have suffered for too long, and this decision will pave the way for systemic change across the country,” added Colette, who was joined on the trial team by MoFo partner Jack Londen, as well as associates Aaron Bray, John Douglass, Pieter de Ganon, and numerous former associates over the course of five years, and paralegals Anne Lepore, Gary Stenger, and Ethel Villegas.

Also remarking on the outcome, an individual who served as a witness at trial and was once held in the Sector by the CBP said, “I feel very happy to know that things are going to change in these detention centers and that people will not have to spend much time under the conditions I was detained in. I am very happy to know that I helped make things better for all of the people who follow; so many people will benefit from being treated better during the time they have to be detained there.”

To secure the precedent-setting verdict, MoFo worked closely with co-counsel from the ACLU of Arizona, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.