FTCA Administrative Complaint against CBP for Unlawfully Deportation of an Individual in Removal Proceedings

FTCA Administrative Complaint against CBP for Unlawfully Deportation of an Individual in Removal Proceedings

Reyes Luna v. United States of America, No. 2:20-cv-1152 (W.D. Wash., filed Jul. 28, 2020)

On October 12, 2018, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed an FTCA Administrative Complaint on behalf of an individual who was wrongfully arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and deported in October of 2016. Already in removal proceedings, Reyes Luna was picked up by CBP while traveling in Texas and wrongfully deported to Mexico, in spite of having paperwork on his person which showed he already had a pending case in immigration court.

In December of 2014, Mr. Luna, who had lived in the United States for over 15 years, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) after an arrest, after which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) moved to reinstate a prior order of removal. In 2015, he passed a reasonable fear interview when an asylum officer found a significant possibility that he would be eligible for protection under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) due to his status as a target of two cartels. Accordingly, his case was referred to an Immigration Judge for withholding of removal proceedings and he was able to bond out of detention. After a competency hearing, Mr. Luna was found to be a Franco-Gonzalez class member due to his neurocognitive history and as such, was appointed counsel in his immigration proceedings.

While awaiting his next hearing, Mr. Luna traveled to Hidalgo, Texas to visit family. Border Patrol agents detained him as he was walking back from a gathering, assuming he was traveling with another larger group that had been walking nearby. The agents transported him to a detention center and refused to listen when he asserted he was already in removal proceedings and wished to speak to his lawyer. He spent at least two full days and nights in a detention center, constantly insisting to officers on speaking to his attorney, to no avail. Officers demanded that he sign a form agreeing to deportation, even at one time falsely telling him his next court hearing had been “cancelled.” The officers kept the immigration court documents Mr. Luna showed them and forcibly removed him to Mexico.

While in Mexico, Mr. Luna was forced to flee for his life and remained in hiding until his immigration attorney was able to make arrangements for his return to the U.S. with agency officers. He was finally allowed to present himself at the border in January of 2017. The claim filed affirms he suffered significant, foreseeable, and direct emotional and financial harm as a result of the unlawful activity of ICE and CBP.

In July 2020, NWIRP filed a complaint in federal district court, after the government issued a notice denying Mr. Luna’s claim under the FTCA. In September 2020, the defendant moved to change venue and partially dismiss Mr. Luna’s claims.

On February 22, 2021 the District Court issued an order denying the motion to change venue and granting the partial motion to dismiss the abuse of process and negligence claims. Mr. Luna’s claims for false arrest and false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress remain at issue. The defendant filed an answer to the complaint on March 8, 2021.

Counsel: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Contact: Aaron Korthuis | Northwest Immigrant Rights Project | aaron@nwirp.org