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Jean L. v. Ortiz

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 16, 2018

JEAN L., Petitioner,
v.
ALFARO ORTIZ, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Hon. Susan D. Wigenton, United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is the pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus of Petitioner, Jean L., filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No. 1). As Petitioner has paid the appropriate filing fee, this Court is required to screen the petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, applicable to § 2241 petitions through Rule 1(b), and determine whether it “plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” For the reasons set forth below, this Court will deny the petition without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is a native citizen of Haiti who apparently became a lawful permanent resident of the United States in 1993. (ECF No. 1 at 3). In May 2006, petitioner pled guilty to possession of a controlled dangerous substance in violation of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:35-10(a)(1), for which he received a sentence of time served and two years' probation. (Id.). On June 8, 2018, immigration officials took Petitioner into immigration custody, apparently based on his 2006 criminal conviction, and placed him into removal proceedings. (Id.). Since that time, Petitioner has remained detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) based on his prior drug conviction. (Id. at 3-4).

         On July 10, 2018, Petitioner appeared for his initial immigration court appearance, at which point he was denied bond as the immigration judge concluded he was subject to mandatory detention pursuant to § 1226(c). (Id. at 4). Petitioner thereafter filed an application for cancellation of removal, which remains pending at this time. (Id.).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c), habeas relief may be extended to a prisoner only when he “is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). A federal court has jurisdiction over such a petition if the petitioner is “in custody” and the custody is allegedly “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490 (1989). As Petitioner is currently detained within this Court's jurisdiction, by a custodian within the Court's jurisdiction, and asserts that his continued detention violates due process, this Court has jurisdiction over his claims. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 494-95, 500 (1973); see also Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 699 (2001).

         Pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, applicable to Section 2241 petitions through Rule 1(b), the courts are required to preliminarily review habeas petitions and determine whether it “plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Pursuant to this rule, a district court is “authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face.” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994).

         B. Analysis

         1. Petitioner is properly subject to detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c)

         In his first claim, Petitioner attempts to assert that immigration officials were deprived of the authority to hold him pursuant to § 1226(c) because he was not taken into immigration custody for more than a decade after his probationary sentence expired. In making that argument, Petitioner acknowledges that his claim is contrary to the basic holding the applicable binding precedent in this Circuit, Sylvain v. Attorney Gen. of the United States, 714 F.3d 150, 157-160 (3d Cir. 2013), but asserts that Sylvain should not apply because the delay here was six years longer than that discussed in Sylvain. In Sylvain, the Third Circuit held that even if § 1226(c) calls for the Government to detain an alien “when the alien is released” from criminal custody, “nothing in the statute suggests that immigration officials lose authority if the delay.” Id. at 157. The Third Circuit explained this conclusion as follows:

We reach this conclusion for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the text: the government's authority to impose mandatory detention does not depend on its compliance with the “when ... released” deadline. The text states that immigration officials “shall take into custody any alien who [has committed various crimes] when the alien is released.” 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c)(1). The text does not explicitly remove that authority if an alien has already left custody. We are loath to interpret a deadline as a bar on authority after the time has passed - even when the word “shall” appears in the text. See Cyberworld Enter. Tech. v. Napolitano, 602 F.3d 189, 197 (3d Cir. 2010).
This principle of statutory interpretation descends from a long line of Supreme Court precedents. See, e.g., Barnhart v. Peabody Coal Co., 537 U.S. 149, 161[] (2003); United States v. Nashville, C & St. L. Ry., 118 U.S. 120, 125[] (1886). In these cases, the Court has explained that “a statute directing official action needs more than a mandatory ‘shall' before the grant of power can sensibly be read to expire when the job is supposed to be done.” Barnhart, 537 U.S. at 161[.] In other words, “a provision that the Government ‘shall' act within a specified time, without more, [is not] a jurisdictional limit precluding action later.” Id. at 158, 161-63[](concluding that a provision stating that the ...

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