The district court properly dismissed the complaint on grounds that the plaintiffs did not sufficiently allege that the government’s practice of transferring detained immigrants among various interstate detention centers violated a substantive due process right. Accordingly, the court also properly dismissed procedural due process claims and one plaintiff’s request for habeas relief.
Contrary to the government’s contentions, the district court had jurisdiction to hear this case, as does this court. On the merits, the plaintiffs do not challenge either their arrest; the government’s right to detain them; their detention in Farmville, Virginia; the conditions of their confinement; or their bond-hearing procedures. Instead, they argue that transferring them from the Farmville facility near their families to a facility in Texas away from their families violated a substantive due-process right to “family unity.”
Like the district court, this court is unable to find an existing substantive due-process right to family unity in the context of immigration detention pending removal. And the court is hardly free to create a new right in view of U.S. Supreme Court decisions cautioning courts from innovating in this area. The court declines the plaintiffs’ urging to recognize such a right where there are virtually no objective criteria for assessing how strong the familial ties must be, how short the distance between family and detention must be, or how weak the countervailing governmental interests must be.