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Campos v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

April 24, 2018


          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas

          Before WIENER, ELROD, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.

          LESLIE H. SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judge:

         Guadalupe Chaidez Campos sued the Government for false arrest and false imprisonment under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court dismissed her claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We AFFIRM the district court's dismissal but VACATE and REMAND so that the court may revise its final judgment to dismiss Campos's claims without prejudice.


         In December 2012, Campos entered the United States without legal authority. United States Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") officers issued her a Notice and Order of Expedited Removal. Prior to Campos's removal, though, she pled guilty to one count of attempted illegal reentry, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326. Campos was sentenced to 11 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. While she was incarcerated, Campos applied for and was granted U nonimmigrant status. We will discuss the purpose and effect of that status later.

         We will set out the factual events of the dispute by quoting from the first amended complaint. We start here because of the district court's statement that it "has not considered the substance or value of any of the Government's exhibits" offered in its motion to dismiss:[1]

On or about November 14, 2013, Ms. Chaidez Campos reported to the federal probation office for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, in El Paso, Texas with her one-year-old child, Emmanuel Ochoa, and Emmanuel's father, Jesus M. Ochoa Perez.
At that time, Ms. Chaidez Campos was in the United States in lawful immigration status because the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), granted her U nonimmigrant status as a victim of a crime.
When Ms. Chaidez Campos arrived for her appointment with her federal probation officer, she was made to wait and then was met by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
The CBP officer separated Ms. Chaidez Campos from her child.
Ms. Chaidez Campos pleaded with the CBP officer, telling the officer that Ms. Chaidez Campos was not deportable because she had been granted U nonimmigrant status.
Ms. Chaidez Campos then presented the CBP officer with proof of Ms. Chaidez Campos' lawful temporary resident status in the form of her Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
On its face, Ms. Chaidez Campos' EAD contained the correct spelling of her name, correct alien number (A#), correct birth date, country of origin, and nonimmigrant status.
The CBP officer continued to detain Ms. Chaidez Campos after she presented the officer the EAD showing that Ms. Chaidez Campos was in the United States with lawful temporary residency status.
The CBP took Ms. Chaidez Campos into custody and transferred her to the Paso del Norte (PDN) Port-of-Entry in El Paso Texas.
At the PDN Port-of-Entry, CBP searched Ms. Chaidez Campos, held her in a cold room, and eventually removed her to Mexico that same day, November 14, 2013.
Ms. Chaidez Campos attempted at least two times to return to the United States but was denied admission. She remained outside the United States until January 17, 2014.

         What these allegations do not address is what the CBP officers did to investigate Campos's immigration status, what they found, and why they decided to remove her. Though the district court in its order dismissing the complaint stated that it did not consider the "substance or value" of the exhibits the Government attached to it motion to dismiss, the court did indicate that it considered "for context" that she pled guilty to attempted illegal re-entry after being previously removed, was sentenced by this same district judge, and served 11 months in prison.

         Campos filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas against the United States, alleging violations of her civil rights and requesting relief under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). Campos claimed that she was falsely arrested and imprisoned by the CBP officers because the officers detained her after she presented them with an EAD, which in her view conclusively showed entitlement to remain in the United States.

         The Government filed a motion to dismiss, contending that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Campos's FTCA claims because the CBP officers' actions fell within the "discretionary function exception" to the FTCA's waiver of sovereign immunity. The district court agreed and dismissed. Campos timely appealed.


         We are reviewing a district court's dismissal of a suit due to the absence of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Our review of such a dismissal is de novo, applying the same standard as the district court. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). The party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of proof. Id. In resolving a motion under Rule 12(b)(1), the district court

has the power to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on any one of three separate bases: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.

St. Tammany Par., ex rel. Davis v. Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, 556 F.3d 307, 315 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981)).

         The district court did not resolve any disputed facts. As to undisputed facts, the Government attached to its motion to dismiss affidavits of two CBP officers involved with the investigation on the day of Campos's removal and three documents related to Campos's 2013 conviction that sent her to prison for 11 months and also led to an order for her removal that would be enforced at the end of her incarceration. Some and perhaps most of the information in those exhibits would have been undisputed. As mentioned earlier, though, the court declared that it had not considered the "substance" of the exhibits. Instead, it considered for contextual reasons only the evidence of Campos's prior conviction, about which the complaint was completely silent.

         We conclude that the district court, by its reference to using the conviction information for context, necessarily meant that it considered the undisputed record of Campos's conviction and its effects. This included the order for removal that gave the CBP officers a basis for a reasonable belief that she was impermissibly in the country and was subject to being removed.[2] We reach that conclusion due to the district court's explaining in its order dismissing the case that a CBP officer has statutory authority to arrest without a warrant when "the agent has 'reason to believe' that the person is in the United States in violation of any immigration laws or regulations and is 'likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained for [her] arrest.'" See 8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(2). When the court then held that these CBP officers had used this authority, there must have been information that provided a reason to believe, even if incorrectly, that Campos was present improperly. CBP officers do not have discretion to conduct an investigation, find nothing, and deport anyway.

         When a district court does not detail the factual determinations it made to support its ruling, "an appellate court may determine for itself, on the basis of the record and any statements made by the district court . . . what, if any, implicit factual findings it made." Williamson, 645 F.2d at 414. As will become clear, the only implied factual findings in the district court's order deal with Campos's prior conviction that led to an order that she be removed at the end of her ...

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