Askins and Ramirez v. DHS, et al.

Askins and Ramirez v. Department of Homeland Security, et al., No. 12-CV-2600 W BLM (S.D. Cal., filed Oct. 24, 2012)

This case is about preserving the fundamental First Amendment right to hold our government accountable at the border and challenging CBP’s abusive behavior of those who seek to exercise these rights. Ray Askins is an activist concerned about environmental issues at the border. While standing on a public street in Calexico, he took photographs of the Port of Entry building to illustrate a presentation he planned to give on vehicle emissions at ports of entry. Christian Ramirez is a human rights activist who photographed male CBP officers frisking female travelers as they were preparing to leave the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

When they took their photographs, both Mr. Askins and Mr. Ramirez were on the United States side of the border, in areas open to the public. In both cases, CBP officers detained, harassed, and threatened them, temporarily confiscated their cameras, and deleted their photographs. CBP officers also physically abused Mr. Askins. The case seeks to prevent CBP from interfering with or otherwise suppressing the public’s lawful recording of federal border officials’ public activities.  Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages on behalf of Mr. Askins.

In September 2013, the district court denied in part and granted in part the government’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims. The government then filed a motion for clarification of the court’s order on the motion to dismiss.

In April 2014, the district court granted in part and denied in part the government’s motion for reconsideration.  In this order, the district court reaffirmed its First Amendment analysis in its September 2013 order on the government’s motion to dismiss.  The court, however, ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefs relating to Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment claims.  The parties filed supplemental briefs in late spring, 2014.

In January 2015, the district court issued another order granting in part the government’s motion for reconsideration.  This order addresses Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment claims.

Plaintiffs have filed an amended complaint responsive to the district court’s orders. On February 1, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their opposition to the government’s motion to dismiss their amended complaint.

In March 2016, the District Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ first amended complaint. Plaintiffs have appealed to the Ninth Circuit; they filed their opening brief on September 26, 2016. Amicus briefs have been filed in support of Plaintiffs’ position by the CATO Institute and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Counsel: ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties

Contact:  Mitra Ebadolahi | ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties |