Immigration Law

Class Action Certified in Cambodian Detention Suit: Chhoeun v. Marin

Chhoeun v. Marin - "This action challenges the Government’s policy of arbitrarily rounding up and placing in immigration detention individuals who have been living peaceably in our communities for years.1 Petitioners Nak Kim Chhoeun and Mony Neth claim that they, along with approximately 1,900 individuals, are subject to this policy. Chhoeun and Neth bring this putative class action on behalf of these 1,900 individuals to challenge the Government’s policy as contrary to constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law. The proposed class members are all citizens of Cambodia living in the United States. Many fled Cambodia in the 1970s as small children to escape the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Although they have been living in the United States for many years, they are subject to orders of removal to Cambodia based on criminal convictions that they suffered years ago. When the orders of removal were issued, which in many cases occurred over a decade ago, the proposed class members were not deported because Cambodia refused to accept their repatriation. Instead, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) determined that they were not flight risks and did not pose a danger to society, and released them from custody. Then, in October 2017, ICE began rounding up and re-detaining the proposed class members without warning or explanation. Approximately 100 proposed class members were abruptly re-detained in the fall of 2017. They were arrested on their way to work or during routine meetings with ICE. Among those re-detained were Petitioners Chhoeun and Neth. Prior to their re-detention, Chhoeun and Neth had been carrying out their lives without incident for over a decade. Nevertheless, they were detained because the Government’s policy allows ICE to re-detain and deport any individual subject to a removal order without any process. The Government’s policy allows ICE to re-detain such individuals without notice, without an opportunity to challenge their removal, and without a chance to say goodbye to their employers, coworkers, family, and loved ones. Petitioners now seek to certify the proposed class of 1,900 Cambodian citizens who, like them, received removal orders, were subsequently released from immigration detention, and now have been or may be re-detained by ICE. (Dkt. 139 [Motion for Class Certification, hereinafter “Mot.”].) Petitioners claim that each proposed class member is subject to the Government’s unlawful policy of re-detaining removeable individuals without any prior notice or opportunity to be heard. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN SUBSTANTIAL PART Petitioners’ motion for class certification."