Lopez-Venegas v Johnson is a class action lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of Mexican nationals who were eligible to reside in the United States lawfully, but instead were misinformed, deceived or threatened into signing their own expulsion orders through misuse of a process known as “voluntary departure” by immigration enforcement agencies operating in Southern California.

The lawsuit was also filed on behalf of organizational plaintiffs who have had to divert their missions and expend resources in responding to the government’s practices around voluntary return. As administered and practiced in Southern California, the “voluntary departure” program has become a regime of unlawful coerced expulsion — one which tears numerous families apart every year, families who have established roots in the United States.

Case Developments

UPDATE
August 28, 2014
U.S. District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt grants motion for preliminary approval of the class portions of the agreement. Read the preliminary approval.

UPDATE
August 18, 2014
A settlement agreement is reached and the ACLU, Cooley LLP file a motion for preliminary approval of the class portions of the agreement. Read the settlement.

UPDATE
April 10, 2014
The parties begin the settlement process.

UPDATE
February 12, 2014
The Judge orders the parties to attend a settlement conference with the magistrate.

UPDATE
February 6, 2014
The court enters a protective order in the case that prevents the government from using information obtained from the witnesses in the case to engage in immigration enforcement against those witnesses. The order ensures that witnesses are not discouraged from stepping forward. Read the order.

UPDATE
December 27, 2013
U.S. District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt largely denies the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and while he finds that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, he denies the request for a preliminary injunction.

UPDATE
November 5, 2013
November 5, 2013: ACLU and Cooley LLP file a motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of certain clients with small children. The ACLU and Cooley LLP asks the court to allow those plaintiffs with U.S.-born citizen children to be allowed to return the United States to aid in their children’s development. Read the motion.

UPDATE
October 30, 2013
Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit arguing that there is no problem with their voluntary departure practices, and challenging the inclusion of organizational plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

UPDATE
October 2, 2013
First Amended Complaint filed. Read the complaint.

UPDATE
September 11, 2013
Government files motion to dismiss our complaint.

UPDATE
August 30, 2013
ACLU SoCal files a motion in opposition to the Defendant’s motion to transfer the case.

UPDATE
July 17, 2013
Judge agrees to extend the deadline by which to file class certification motion.

UPDATE
July 1, 2013
Defendants file a motion to transfer the case from the Central District to the Southern District, which they later withdraw on October 31, 2013.

FILING
June 4, 2013
The ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and the law firm of Cooley LLP file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Mexican nationals who were eligible to reside in the United States lawfully, but instead were misinformed, deceived or threatened into signing their own expulsion orders through misuse of a process known as “voluntary departure” by immigration enforcement agencies operating in Southern California. The lawsuit is also on behalf of organizations that work with immigrants and have been harmed by these unfair voluntary departure practices. Read the complaint.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties; ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Cooley LLP

Date filed

July 19, 2016

Court

United States District Court for the Central District of California

Judge

Hon. John A. Kronstadt

Case number

13-cv-03972 JAK

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