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Lopez-Lopez v. County of Allegan

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 13, 2018

Aaron Lopez-Lopez, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated Plaintiff,
v.
County of Allegan, & Frank Baker, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

          OPINION

          PAUL L. MALONEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Aaron Lopez-Lopez has raised claims against Defendants Allegan County and Sheriff Frank Baker for alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and state tort law. The matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss. Because Aaron has not pleaded a plausible claim for which relief can be granted, the Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss and enter judgment.

         I.

         A. Facts

         Aaron Lopez-Lopez was arrested on August 14, 2017 in Allegan County on an outstanding warrant for a probation violation. He was booked into the Allegan County Jail shortly thereafter-around 8:00 P.M.-and his family posted a $1000 cash bond around 9:30. The bond processing company faxed a time-stamped confirmation to the jail, which recorded the time as 10:24.

         Nearly simultaneous to Aaron posting bond, and before receiving confirmation, Allegan County received an I-247 detainer and I-200 administrative warrant from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The I-247 detainer requested that Allegan County hold Aaron until an ICE agent could take custody of him but indicated that if ICE was unable to pick him up within 48 hours, Allegan County should release him. It also set forth ICE's probable cause for believing Aaron was a deportable alien. The next morning, an ICE agent personally served Aaron with the I-200 administrative warrant, and ICE took custody of him around 3:00 P.M. that afternoon.

         Based on these facts, Aaron filed suit alleging that Allegan County and Sheriff Frank Baker violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, his Fifth Amendment right to due process, and state tort law for false imprisonment. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss in lieu of an answer.

         B. The Federal Immigration System

         An understanding of the federal immigration system is necessary to resolve the motion. The federal government has “broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens.” Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 394 (2012); see also Trump v. Hawaii, 585 U.S. --, 138 S.Ct. 2392, 2408 (2018) (explaining that the President has “broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States”). Congress, by virtue of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), has authorized the Department of Homeland Security, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to carry out federal immigration law. This includes authority to interview, arrest, and detain removable aliens. 8 U.S.C. §§ 1226(a)-(c) (authorizing the Attorney General to issue warrants, arrest aliens, and take them into custody while a decision to remove them is pending).[1]

         The INA also authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to enter into formal cooperative agreements with state and local law enforcement, essentially deputizing them to carry out federal immigration law. See 8 U.S.C. § 1357(g). Under these agreements, state and local authorities are subject to the supervision of the Secretary and perform specific immigration enforcement functions like investigating, apprehending, and detaining aliens. § 1357(g)(1)-(9). However, where no formal cooperative agreement exists, local authorities may still “communicate with [ICE] regarding the immigration status of any individual . . . or otherwise cooperate with [ICE] in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States.” § 1357(g)(10)(A)-(B).

         One additional requirement exists when state and local authorities seek to aid federal agents without a formal agreement in place: Their cooperation must be pursuant to a “request, approval, or other instruction from the Federal Government.” Arizona, 567 U.S. at 410. When requested, state and local law enforcement may “participate in a joint task force with federal officers, provide operational support in executing a warrant, or allow federal immigration officials to gain access to detainees held in state facilities.” Id. But state and local officers cannot make unilateral decisions relating to immigration enforcement. Id.

         One method in which the federal government requests the cooperation of state authorities is by issuing I-247 detainers. An immigration detainer notifies a state or locality that ICE intends to take custody of a removable alien when the alien is released from that jurisdiction's custody. ICE issues the detainer to request that the state or locality to cooperate by notifying ICE of the alien's release date and by holding the alien for up to 48 hours- which is based on ICE's determination that the it has probable cause that the alien is removable. See 8 C.F.R. § 287.7(a), (d).[2]

         In April of 2017, ICE changed its policy so that ICE officers provided signed administrative warrants along with ICE detainers when they sought cooperation from local law enforcement to hold an individual for detention. Prior to this change in policy, officers issued only I-247 detainers to local law enforcement when it sought local cooperation to hold a suspected alien.

         II.

         A complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing how the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must include more than labels, conclusions, and formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A defendant bringing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether a cognizable claim has been pled in the complaint. Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988).

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the plaintiff must provide sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted as true, are sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and the “claim to relief must be plausible on its face” Id. at 570. “A claim is plausible on its face if the ‘plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Ctr. for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. Napolitano, 648 F.3d 365, 369 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. ...


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