Wilbur P.G. v. United States

Wilbur P.G, et al., v. United States, No. 4:21-cv-44657 (N.D. Cal., filed June 10, 2021)

Plaintiffs are three families who were separated at the Arizona border in May 2018 under the Department of Justice’s Zero Tolerance policy. The parents were separated from their children while in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, under the guise of pursuing criminal prosecutions against the parents. Two parents were never criminally prosecuted, while the other parent was prosecuted for illegal entry—a misdemeanor—and served a three-day sentence in criminal custody.

After separating the children from their parents, CBP officers transferred the plaintiff children to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The families were separated for weeks. While detained, one parent sustained lasting physical injuries after being denied medical attention. One of the children was sexually abused while in ORR custody.

The families sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act to recover damages caused by the separation itself, as well as the physical and emotional injuries suffered by various plaintiffs during their time in detention.

Plaintiffs filed suit on June 10, 2021 in the Northern District of California. On January 5, 2022, Defendant United States filed a motion to transfer the case to the District of Arizona. Defendants also moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On May 10, 2022, the district court denied Defendant’s motion to transfer and motion to dismiss. On May 24, 2022, Defendant filed its answer to the complaint; Defendant later amended the answer on July 29, 2022.

Documents:

Counsel: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area | Keker, Van Nest & Peters

Contact: Victoria Petty | vpetty@lccrsf.org

Press:

Note: Other family separation cases filed in California include:

  • I.T. v. United States, 4:22-cv-5333 (N.D. Cal., filed Sept. 20, 2022);
  • J.R.G. and M.A.R. v. United States, 4:22-cv-5183 (N.D. Cal., filed Sept. 12, 2022);
  • Rodriguez v. United States, 2:22-cv-2845 (C.D. Cal., filed Apr. 28, 2022);
  • A.F.P. v. United States, 1:21-cv-780 (E.D. Cal., filed May 14, 2021);
  • Nunez Euceda v. United States, 2:20-cv-10793 (C.D. Cal., filed Nov. 25, 2020).

Other family separation cases filed in district courts in other states:

  • F.C.C. v. United States, 2:22-cv-5057 (E.D.N.Y., filed Aug. 25, 2022);
  • W.P.V. v. Cayuga Home for Children, Inc. and United States, 1:21-cv-4436 (S.D.N.Y., filed May 17, 2021);
  • C.D.A. v. United States, 5:21-cv-469 (E.D. Pa., filed Feb. 1, 2021);
  • R.Y.M.R v. United States, 1:20-cv-23598 (S.D. Fla., filed Aug. 28, 2020);
  • D.J.C.V. v. United States, 1:20-cv-5747 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 24, 2020).

For a list of District of Arizona family separation cases, consult the entry on C.M. v. United States.