Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Class Action???

No doubt, my attorney buddies, like John Greenan, Ken Koonce, David Deary and Liz Cedillo-Pereira, will be quick to set me straight on what I am about to suggest (I'd expect talk that includes terms like "summary judgment," "not possible,"or the like).

But, hey, good advice has never prevented my throwing wild ideas out, so here goes!

Sitting in immigration court on Monday with two really smart graduates of DISD schools, both of whom face deportation, started my thought process.

These young people attended our public schools for 11 years each. From second grade forward, Monica and Jesse worked their way through our education system, a public institution that I paid for, at least in part, with my tax dollars.

Here's my idea: a class action law suit against the U. S. Department of Justice, Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for squandering my investment in these young lives by removing them from our community.

In fact, the action to deport two really fine students at a time when our workforce and our educational systems are crying for well-trained bi-lingual employees makes the situation even more ridiculous.

Give me a couple of days and I'll come up with the metrics on what my investment has been in these two students--annual cost to educate a child from second through the senior year. Multiply that by the number of children/students who are being deported by our government at present and you can arrive at the total cost in taxpayer dollars of this colossal disinvestment.

In my opinion it is highway robbery. If the federal government intends to deport all of these students, I demand a refund!

Now all I need is a good, courageous lawyer with a bit of free time. Any takers?



Waymon R. Hinson, Ph.D. said...


Couldn't agree with you more. This immigration thing is more complicated than I can grasp, but some things are just within the bounds of common sense and decency. Add me to the class.

Check out the photos from the recent Black land loss summit at Interesting event.


Larry James said...

Thanks, Waymon! I'll check out the photos. Thanks for your work.

SeriousSummer said...

Actually, what you need is a brilliant but insane lawyer with no clients and nothing else to do but try to sell an impossible legal argument.

The United States Government is immune from actions for damages (Eleventh Amendment) unless is has expressly waived its immunity. There are a whole lot of clever ways to argue immunity has been waived, but I can't even conceive of one of them succeeding here--and I'm not known for lack of imagination.

Assuming your BIL (brilliant insane lawyer) somehow succeeds in this agument, then your case is immediately dismissed for lack of standing. A long line of cases holds that individual taxpayers don't have standing to sue over expenditure of government funds, merely as taxpayers.

Otherwise I could sue for the waste of money in Iraq, for example, and the courts would be completely clogged with such actions.

I'm afraid, Larry, that your idea isn't good enough to make it to summary judgment. It's FRCP 12(b)(6). Dismissed for failure to state a cause of action for which relief can be granted.

Probably with sanctions.

Anonymous said...

I have sympathy for the students but if one could file a class action lawsuit for them, could not one file a class action lawsuit for the failure to enforce our immigration laws, for squandering our investment in schools, hospitals and other services for illegals? Just wondering.

Larry James said...

Serious Summer, I knew I could draw you out on this one! Thanks for disabusing me of my foolish notion! You're really good at that. You've saved my hide from a number of "situations" across the years, for which I will remain eternally grateful. Of course, you've also dragged me into a few yourself!

My point still stands, regardless of my ill-informed and ridiculous legal theory: it is absurd to send these fine students away after we and they have invested so much in their preparation for life in our community. Obviously, we need legislation, like the DREAM Act, to provide relief and legal protection so that they can remain in the U. S.

Thanks for your wise counsel, as always!

spike said...

On the bright side, maybe things won't be so bleak for the deported if they've had a chance to avail themselves of our educational system for 12 years. I know their home countries probably don't have as many opportunities as ours does, but maybe there is hope for people who made it through an American high school? Most of the migrants are farmers driven off their land by American farm policy. If they return to their home countries with an education, perhaps they can live middle-class lifestyles?

Frank Bellizzi said...

Hey, if you can't bring a case, just get John Grisham to write a novel about it.

Kent said...


I happen to have the last 12 years of funding broken down by the average amount spent per kid, per grade, by DISD. Here's a rough estimate of what the district spent on each student: (These amounts have not been adjusted for inflation and reflect total operating expenditures.)

12th grade: $7,362
11th grade: $7,279
10th grade: $11,628
9th grade: $11,933
8th grade: $8,347
7th grade: $8,004
6th grade: $6,676
5th grade: $6,538
4th grade: $6,177
3rd grade: $5,716
2nd grade: $5,567
TOTAL: $85,231 spent on each kid in the Class of 2008

Kent Fischer
Dallas Morning News

Larry James said...

Kent, thanks for this very helpful information. If you want to know more about these particular students, give me a call!

Kent said...

I should also note that the per-student figure for 2007-08 reflects the amount budgeted because, obviously, the school year isn't over yet. All other years reflect all dollars actually spent.

Kent Fischer
Dallas Morning News

Karen Shafer said...

As a side note re: treatment of people being held on immigration charges, read the article in the Dallas Morning News today, Page 9A, entitled "Immigrant accidentally held 4 days without food, water in Arkansas."

Travis Stanley said...

If Denny Craine and Alan Shore of TV's Boston Legal were real life, they would take the case.

Lal said...

hey larry,
can u give us any updates on monica and jose? i m from a dream deferred over at brave new films -- would love to write their stories.

Larry James said...

Thanks, Lal, for asking. At this point, our Congress person, Eddie Bernice Johnson is working on a private bill for the 3 students. Not a very good way to do immigration action, but our last and only hope this side of the border for our young friends.