United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY United States District Judge
petitioner, Denton Watson, is an immigration detainee
currently lodged at the Essex County Correctional Facility in
Newark, New Jersey. He is proceeding through counsel with a
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. Mr. Watson challenges his current
immigration detention in this habeas petition. For the
following reasons, the habeas petition will be granted and a
bond hearing will be ordered to take place before an
Immigration Judge ("IJ") within fourteen days.
Watson is a native and citizen of Jamaica. He entered the
United States in 1983. Mr. Watson was convicted of several
drug offenses, the first of which occurred in 1989.
8, 2016, Mr. Watson was placed into immigration detention. On
August 3, 2016, Mr. Watson requested a continuance of his
removal proceedings before an IJ so that he could obtain
counsel. At another hearing before an IJ on September 7,
2016, Mr. Watson, who now had counsel to represent him,
requested another continuance. On October 26, 2016, the
master calendar hearing was adjourned by the IJ to the
individual calendar for a merits hearing. On January 10,
2017, Mr. Watson appeared for his individual merits hearing.
On February 27, 2017, an IJ ordered Mr. Watson removed from
the United States.
Watson appealed the IJ's removal order to the Board of
Immigration Appeals ("BIA"). Mr. Watson indicates
in his reply brief that the matter remains pending before the
BIA. (See Dkt. No. 8 at p.6)
January, 2017, Mr. Watson filed his habeas petition.
Respondent filed a response in opposition to the habeas
petition. Thereafter, Mr. Watson filed a reply brief in
support of his habeas petition.
Watson has appealed the IJ's order to the BIA, and for so
long as that appeal remains pending, his order of removal is
not final. See 8 C.F.R. 1241.1(a) (order of removal
by IJ becomes final upon dismissal of appeal by the BIA). The
Attorney General has the authority to detain aliens in
removal proceedings before the issuance of a final order of
removal. This period of detention is known as the
"pre-removal" period. Detention of an alien in the
pre-removal period is governed by Section 1226 of Title 8 of
the United States Code. Section 1226(a) permits the Attorney
General to detain or release an alien pending a decision on
whether the alien is to be removed from the United States:
On a warrant issued by the Attorney General, an alien may be
arrested and detained pending a decision on whether the alien
is to be removed from the United States. Except as provided
in subsection (c) of this section and pending such decision,
the Attorney General-
(1) may continue to detain the arrested alien; and
(2) may release the alien on-
(A) bond of at least $1, 500 with security approved by, and
containing conditions prescribed ...