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Federal appeals court affirms dismissal of Massachusetts immigration raid lawsuit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Tuesday upheld [opinion, PDF] a district court's dismissal [order, PDF; JURIST report] of a lawsuit brought by illegal immigrant detainees over their transfer from Massachusetts to Texas holding centers following a March 6 factory raid in which 360 people were arrested. The district court dismissed the lawsuit [ACLU materials] because it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The appeals court upheld the dismissal, but on the grounds that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court wrote:

The common denominator is that none of the claims can proceed in the district court. Thus, while our reasoning differs somewhat from that of the court below — and our opinion should not be read as an unqualified endorsement of the way in which immigration officials handled the matter — we affirm the judgment of dismissal...

We are sensitive to the concerns raised by the petitioners and are conscious that undocumented workers, like all persons who are on American soil, have certain inalienable rights. But in the first instance, it is Congress — not the judiciary — that has the responsibility of prescribing a framework for the vindication of those rights. When Congress speaks clearly and formulates a regime that satisfies constitutional imperatives, the courts must follow Congress's lead. In that sense, it does not matter whether a court approves or disapproves of an agency's modus operandi.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said that they may still appeal the decision or amend their original complaint in the district court.

The US Department of Homeland Security [official website] detained more than 300 people for possible deportation as illegal immigrants after a March 6 raid at Michael Bianco Inc. [corporate website], a leather factory that makes equipment for the US military. Following the raid, the district judge hearing the case ordered US immigration officials [JURIST report] to provide detainees access to lawyers and not to move them out of state. AP has more.

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