(CN) – A Texas woman has the right to sue the U.S. Border Patrol for deporting her child, who is a U.S. citizen, the 5th Circuit ruled.
Monica Castro was 17 when she had a baby girl, R.M.G. The father was Omar Gallardo, a Mexican citizen who was in the United States illegally.
After the couple had an argument, Castro reported Gallardo as an illegal alien. The Border Patrol rounded up Gallardo and his family, including R.M.G.
Castro’s lawyer couldn’t get a temporary custody order in time, and the baby was gone.
Three years later, Gallardo was caught in Amarillo after illegally re-entering the United States. He came to an agreement with Castro for the return of their child.
Castro, on behalf of herself and her daughter, sued for negligence, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress. The district court dismissed her case.
On appeal, Judge Stewart of the New Orleans-based federal appeals court ruled that Castro’s Federal Tort Claims Act complaint should not have been dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Stewart ruled that the government cannot claim a discretionary function exception to cover their deportation of R.M.G.
“We hold that Castro’s complaint does sufficiently allege that the Border Patrol agents’ actions exceeded the scope of their authority,” Stewart wrote. “Border Patrol agents … generally speaking, do not have the authority to arrest or detain U.S. citizens.”