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Ryan v. United States Immigration & Customs Enf’t

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

September 1, 2020, Decided

No. 19-1838


SELYA, Circuit Judge. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the arm of the federal government charged with the apprehension and detention of noncitizens who are subject to removal. Believing state courthouses to be appropriate locations in which to conduct civil enforcement actions, ICE increased its efforts to arrest allegedly removable noncitizens in and around state courthouses when they appeared for judicial proceedings. In January of 2018, ICE issued Directive 11072.1 (the Directive), [*4]  formalizing its policy regarding civil enforcement actions in such courthouses.

ICE's growing presence in Massachusetts courthouses concerned a number of persons and organizations, including Marian Ryan and Rachael Rollins (the District Attorneys of Middlesex County and Suffolk County, respectively), the Committee for Public Counsel Services (the main public defender agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), and Chelsea Collaborative, Inc. (a nonprofit that provides services to the immigrant community in Chelsea, Massachusetts). Fearing the effects of ICE's activities on the proper functioning of both the state judicial system and access to justice in immigrant communities, they sued ICE, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and three DHS officials (collectively, the defendants), specifically challenging the Directive and generally challenging ICE's policy of civilly arresting individuals attending court on official business.1

When the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction, they argued primarily that ICE lacked statutory authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101-1537, to conduct such arrests because the INA implicitly incorporates a hoary [*5]  common law privilege against civil arrests for parties and witnesses attending court proceedings. The district court determined that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of this argument and preliminarily enjoined ICE from implementing the Directive or otherwise civilly arresting individuals attending court on official business anywhere in Massachusetts. See Ryan v. U.S. Immigr. & Customs Enf't, 382 F. Supp. 3d 142, 159, 161 (D. Mass. 2019).2 On this interlocutory appeal, we have carefully considered the district court's rescript and the compendious briefing furnished by both the parties and an array of helpful amici. We conclude that the district court abused its discretion in finding that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their argument that the INA implicitly incorporates a common law privilege against civil arrests for individuals attending court on official business. Turning to the plaintiffs' backup argument, we likewise conclude that, on the underdeveloped record before us, the plaintiffs have so far failed to show that they are likely to succeed in arguing that ICE lacks statutory authority to conduct such arrests in Massachusetts because Congress has not clearly stated its intent to permit arrests that violate state law. [*6]  Consequently, we vacate the preliminary injunction and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


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2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 27804 *

MARIAN RYAN, in her official capacity as Middlesex County District Attorney, ET AL., Plaintiffs, Appellees, v. U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT ET AL., Defendants, Appellants.


Ryan v. United States Immigration & Customs Enforcement, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107246 (D. Mass., June 20, 2019)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.


arrests, courthouse, immigration, attending, noncitizens, sovereign, injunction, nonderogation, canon, long-established, succeed, summons, movant, factfinding, custody, capias, civilly, respondendum, disrupt, aliens, detain

Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Standing, Elements, Civil Procedure, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Balance of Hardships, Remedies, Preliminary & Temporary Injunctions, Public Interest, Likelihood of Success, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, De Novo Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, De Novo Standard of Review, Questions of Fact & Law, Exceeding Statutory Authority, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Immigration Law, Deportation & Removal, Administrative Proceedings, Bond, Custody & Detention, Enforcement of Immigration Laws, Immigration Officers, Effect & Execution of Orders, Congressional Duties & Powers, Naturalization, Constitutional Foundations, Power to Exclude, Hearing Procedures, Supremacy Clause, Federal Preemption, Federal & State Interrelationships, Federal Common Law, Preemption, Record on Appeal, Amicus Curiae, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review