American Bar Association
Media Alerts
Media Alerts - Crane v. Johnson - Fifth Circuit
Decrease font size
Increase font size
April 8, 2015
  Crane v. Johnson - Fifth Circuit
Headline: Fifth Circuit Dismisses Challenge to "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" Immigration Policy.

Area of Law: Immigration; Federal Subject Matter Jurisdiction.

Issue Presented: Whether the plaintiffs - several immigration officers and the State of Mississippi - alleged injuries that were concrete and particularized enough to establish standing under Article III of the United States Constitution.

Brief Summary: Several Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and deportation officers ("Agents") and the State of Mississippi filed this suit against the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the directors of divisions within that agency in order to challenge a 2012 DHS directive setting forth a program of "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." The Agents alleged that exercising deferred action violates federal law because the law requires them to detain all unauthorized aliens for the purpose of placing the aliens in removal proceedings. The State of Mississippi alleged that the deferred action has caused additional aliens to remain in the state and thereby causes the state to spend money on providing social services. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed Plaintiffs' claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded that neither the Agents nor the State of Mississippi had demonstrated the concrete and particularized injury required to give them standing to maintain the suit, and it accordingly affirmed the district court's dismissal.

Extended Summary: Plaintiffs are several Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and deportation officers ("Agents") and the State of Mississippi. They filed suit against the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the directors of divisions within that agency, in their official capacities, challenging DHS's 2012 directive providing for the deferral of removal proceedings against certain categories of aliens brought to the United States as children. The program is known as "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," or DACA. The Agents alleged that exercising deferred action violates federal law because the law requires them to detain all unauthorized aliens for the purpose of placing the aliens in removal proceedings. The State of Mississippi alleged that the deferred action has caused additional aliens to remain in the state and thereby causes the state to spend money on providing social services.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss asserting that Plaintiffs had not alleged an adequate injury-in-fact that can be redressed by a favorable ruling and therefore did not have standing to bring the suit. The Agents asserted three distinct injuries: (1) a violation of their oaths of office; (2) the burden of compliance with the Directive; and (3) "being compelled to violate a federal statute . . ., on pain of adverse employment action if they do not." The district court found that violating one's oath is not a sufficient injury-in-fact to confer standing, nor is the burden of complying with the Directive. However, the district court found that the threat of an adverse employment action if the Agents refuse to follow the Directive is a sufficient injury to support standing. Mississippi asserted that the cost to the state in providing services to DACA beneficiaries is an adequate injury to support standing. The district court held that Mississippi's allegation of a fiscal burden was too speculative because the only support the state provided for this burden was a 2006 report which estimated the annual cost of immigration six years before the DACA program was instituted. There was no concrete evidence that Mississippi's costs had increased or will increase as a result of DACA.

The district court ultimately held that the Agents had not pursued their remedies under the Civil Service Reform Act, and, thus, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over their claims.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court that Mississippi had failed to allege a sufficiently concrete and particularized injury that would give it standing to challenge DACA. The Fifth Circuit also agreed with the district court and held that the first two injuries listed by the Agents had failed to allege a sufficiently concrete and particularized injury that would give standing to challenge DACA.

However, with regard to the third injury asserted by the Agents, the Fifth Circuit disagreed with the district court that these allegations were sufficient to support the Agents' claims of injury-in-fact. The unlikelihood of an agency sanction against an agent for exercising discretion expressly granted under the directives, together with the fact that no sanctions or warning of sanctions had been issued for that exercise, persuaded the Fifth Circuit that the Agents are not under a "certainly impending" threat of an adverse personnel action that is sufficiently concrete and particularized to qualify as an injury-in-fact that gives the Agents standing. As such, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of all of Plaintiffs' claims.

Judge Owen wrote in concurrence only to note that in order to establish standing with respect to some claims, it is not always necessary to present concrete evidence that an injury has occurred or will, beyond question, occur.

Note that a separate challenge to a more recently announced expansion of deferred action is also pending before the Fifth Circuit, but the appeal summarized here concerned only the 2012 DACA program.

For the full opinion, please see:
http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/op...ub/14/14-10049-CV0.pdf.

Panel: Circuit Judges King, Davis, and Owen

Argument Date: 2/3/2015

Date of Issued Opinion: 4/7/2015

Docket Number: No. 14-10049

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Kirsty Davis

Counsel: Kris Kobach, Immigration Reform Law Institute, for Plaintiffs-Appellants Cross-Appellees Crane, Engle, Carroll, Diaz, Garza, Luciano, Rebstock, Silva, Martin, Doebler, and the State of Mississippi. Jeffrey Clair, U.S. Department of Justice, for Defendants-Appellees Cross-Appellants Johnson, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security; Sandweg, in His Official Capacity as Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Scialabba, in Her Official Capacity as Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Author of Opinion: Judge Davis (Judge Owen concurring)

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Aaron-Andrew P. Bruhl

    Posted By: Aaron Bruhl @ 04/08/2015 09:26 PM     5th Circuit  

FuseTalk Enterprise Edition - © 1999-2018 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.

Discussion Board Usage Agreement

Back to Top