RONE v. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
OPINION. Signed by Judge Kevin McNulty on 11/12/2015. (nr, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 15-3798 (KM)
KEVIN MCNULTY U.S.D.J.
The petitioner, Moises Rone, is an immigration detainee currently detained at the Hudson
County Jail in Kearny, New Jersey. He is proceeding with a petition for writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. For the following reasons, the habeas petition will be denied
A. Immigration Detention & Removal Proceedings
Mr. Rone is a native and citizen of the Dominican Republic. He was admitted to the
United States in 1999 as a lawful permanent resident. On February 19, 2014, Mr. Rone was
convicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York of conspiracy
to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C.
of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1349 and aggravated identity theft in violation
§ 1028A. He received a sentence of twenty-eight months’ imprisonment. Mr. Rone
was released from federal incarceration on February 21, 2014. See www. bop.gov/inmateloc/ (last
visited on October 29, 2015).
On March 21, 2014, Immigration Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) served Mr. Rone with a
notice to appear and he was taken into immigration detention. On December 29, 2014, the
Immigration Judge (“Ii”) ordered Mr. Rone removed from the United States. The Board of
Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) dismissed Mr. Rone’s appeal on June 18, 2015.
Mr. Rone filed a motion to stay and petition for review with the United States Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit. Pursuant to a forbearance agreement in the Second Circuit, ICE
will refrain from removing Mr. Rone while those issues are pending before that Court. On
September 15, 2015, ICE decided to continue Mr. Rone’s immigration detention.
B. Federal Habeas Proceedings
Mr. Rone initially filed his habeas petition pro se in the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Rone is detained in this District, however, so venue is appropriate here. Accordingly, the
Southern District of New York transferred this action to this Court on June 5, 2015.
Mr. Rone made two main arguments in his pro se habeas petition. First, he asserts that his
immigration detention violates 8 U.S.C.
§ 1226 because he was not taken into immigration
detention directly upon his release from incarceration on his criminal sentence. Second, Mr.
Rone argues that his continued and prolonged immigration detention violates his due process
Respondent answered the habeas petition on July 10, 2015. Mr. Rone filed his reply on
August 17, 2015. At that point, this matter was huilly briefed. Before the Court ruled on the
habeas petition, however, Mr. Rone obtained pro bono counsel to represent him. Pro hono
counsel sought and received an extension of time to file a supplemental reply brief, which was
filed on October 5, 2015. In addition to the arguments raised in the habeas petition, Mr. Rone’s
supplemental reply brief argues that ICE’s September 15, 2015 decision to continue his detention
failed to comply with 8 C.F.R.
§ 241.4. The court ordered the government to address that
argument in a surreply brief, which the government filed on October 26, 2015. On November 3,
2015, Mr. Rone filed a letter in response to the surreply.
A. Application to Seal & Application for Appointment of Counsel
Mr. Rone filed a pro se motion to seal prior to the appearance of pro bono counsel. (See
Dkt. No. 20) He requests that the Court seal all documents in this case and that the Court redact
the names and whereabouts of himself and his affiants and witnesses.
Local Civil Rule 5.1(c) governs motions to seal. The Rule states as follows:
Any motion to seal or otherwise restrict public access shall be
available for review by the public. The motion papers shall
describe (a) the nature of the materials or proceedings at issue, (b)
the legitimate private or public interests which warrant the relief
sought, (c) the clearly defined and serious injury that would result
if the relief sought is not granted, and (d) why a less restrictive
alternative to the relief sought is not available. Proposed Findings
of Fact and Conclusions of Law shall be submitted with the motion
papers in the proposed order required by (c)(5) below.
L.Civ.R. 5.1(c). Mr. Rone’s application to seal does not comply with the Local Rule. He does not
describe the “clearly defined and serious injury that would result if the relief sought is not
granted.” Id. Furthermore, he has not submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Accordingly, the application to seal will be denied without prejudice.
Mr. Rone also filed an application to appoint pro bono counsel. (See Dkt. No. 21) This
application will be denied as moot. After since it was filed, pro bono counsel appeared on Mr.
Rone’s behalf, and continues to represent him.
B. Immigration Detention
Mr. Rone makes three arguments with respect to his immigration detention. First, he
argues that his current immigration detention violates 8 U.S.C.
§ 1226 because he was not
immediately detained by immigration officials upon his release from federal incarceration on
February 21, 2014. Second, Mr. Rone argues that his current immigration detention violates his
due process rights. Finally, Mr. Rone asserts that ICE’s September 15, 2015 decision to keep him
in immigration detention fails to comply with the applicable regulations.
Failure to detain Mr. Rone upon release .from federal incarceration
Mr. Rone first argues that he is entitled to federal habeas relief because he was not placed
in immigration detention until a month after he was released from incarceration for his federal
The Attorney General has the authority to detain aliens in removal proceedings before the
issuance of a final order of removal, or during the “pre-removal” period. Detention of an alien
before an order of removal has been entered 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
(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 by, the Attorney General;
(B) conditional parole;
§ 1226(a). “Except as provided in subsection (c)” is included because, under Section
1226(c), certain criminal aliens are subject to mandatory pre-removal detention:
The Attorney General shall take into custody any alien who—
(A) is inadmissible by reason of having committed any offense
covered in section 1 182(a)(2) of this title,
(B) is deportable by reason of having committed any offense
covered in section l227(a)(2)(a)(ii), (A)(iii), (B), (C), or (D) of this
(C) is deportable under section 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) of this title on the
basis of an offense for which the alien has been sentenced to a term
of imprisonment of at least 1 year, or
(D) is inadmissible under section 1 182(a)(3)(B) of this title or
deportable under section 1227(a)(4)(B) of this title,
when the alien is released, without regard to whether the alien is
released on parole, supervised release, or probation, and without
regard to whether the alien may be arrested or imprisoned again for
the same offense.
§ 1226(c)(l). According to Mr. Rone, he was not placed into mandatory immigration
detention until one month after his release from incarceration. This, he says, violates the
statutory provision that immigration detention may occur “when the alien is released.”
Mr. Rone’s argument is foreclosed by binding Court of Appeals authority. In Sylvain v.
Attorney General, 714 F.3d 150, 156—57 (3d Cir. 2013), the Third Circuit held that the
government retains the authority to take aliens into mandatory detention under
§ 1226(c) even if
it does not do so immediately upon their release from criminal custody. “[M]andatory detention
does not require immediate detention.” Id. at 156. “Even if the statute calls for detention ‘when
the alien is released,’ and even if ‘when’ implies something less than four years, nothing in the
statute suggests that immigration officials lose authority if they delay.” Id. at 157.
Sylvain held that a gap of four years between release and immigration detention did not
violate the statute. In Mr. Rone’s case, the gap was one month. Under Sylvain, the government
retained full statutory authority to detain Mr. Rone pursuant to
grounds will be denied.
§ 1226(c). Habeas relief on these
Mr. Rone also argues that the length of his immigration detention (since March 2014)
violates his due process rights.
I must first decide whether Mr. Rone is in pre-removal or post-removal immigration
detention, because they are governed by separate rules.
Title 8, United States Code, Section 123 1(a)(l)(A) states that, “except as otherwise
provided in this section, when an alien is ordered removed, the Attorney General shall remove
the alien from the United States within a period of 90 days (in this section referred to as the
‘removal period’).” Id.
§ 123 1(a)(1)(A). The removal period begins on the latest of the
(i) The date the order of removal becomes administratively final.
(ii) If the removal order is judicially reviewed and if a court orders
a stay of the removal of the alien, the date of the court’s final
(iii) If the alien is detained or confined (except under an
immigration process), the date the alien is released from detention
§ 123 1(a)(l(B). Federal regulations provide that:
An order of removal made by the immigration judge at the
conclusion of the proceedings under Section 240 of the Act shall
(a) Upon dismissal of an appeal by the Board of Immigration
(b) Upon waiver of appeal by the respondent;
(c) Upon expiration of the time allotted for an appeal fi the
respondent does not file an appeal within that time;
(d) If certified to the Board or Attorney General, upon the date of
the subsequent decision ordering removal; or
(e) If an immigration judge issues an alternate order of removal in
connection with a grant of voluntary departure, upon overstay of
the voluntary departure period, or upon the failure to post a
required voluntary department bond within 5 business days. If the
respondent has filed a timely appeal with the Board, the order shall
become final upon an order of removal by the Board or the
Attorney General, or upon overstay of the voluntary departure
period granted or reinstated by the Board or the Attorney General.
§ 1241.1(a). Section 1231 (a)(2) requires that the alien be detained during the ninety-day
post-removal-order period. See 8 U.S.C.
ninety-day period, then
§ 1231 (a)(2). If the alien is not removed during that
§ 1231 (a)(6) authorizes either continued detention or release on bond:
An alien ordered removed who is inadmissible under section 1982
of this title, under section 1227(a)(1)(C), 1227(a)(2), or 1227(a)(4)
of this title or who has been determined by the Attorney General to
be a risk to the community or unlikely to comply with the order of
removal, may be detained beyond the removal period and, if
released, shall be subject to the terms of supervision in paragraph
§ 123 l(a)(6).
In Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 689 (2001), the United States Supreme Court held
§ 1231 (a)(6) “limits an alien’s post-removal-period detention to a period reasonably
necessary to bring about that alien’s removal from the United States. It does not permit indefinite
detention.” To state a habeas claim under
§ 2241, the petitioner must provide facts showing good
reason to believe that there is no reasonable likelihood of his actual removal in the reasonably
foreseeable future. See Zadiydas, 533 U.S. at 689. “Zadiydas does not delineate the boundaries
of evidentiary sufficiency, but it suggests that an inversely proportional relationship is at play:
the longer an alien is detained, the less he must put forward to obtain relief.” Alexander v.
Attorney Gen. of United States, 495 F. App’x 274, 276—77 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing Zadiydas, 533
U.S. at 701). As a rule of thumb, the Supreme Court stated that six months is a presumptively
reasonable period of post-removal detention under
§ 123 1(a)(6). See Zadvydas, 533 U.S. at 701.
The BIA dismissed Mr. Rone’s appeal on June 18, 2015. Thus, at first glance, it would
appear that Mr. Rone is in post-removal immigration detention. Mr. Rone asserts, however, that
he remains in pre-removal immigration detention because of the forbearance of removal pending
resolution of the motion to stay and petition for review that he filed in the Second Circuit. Thus,
according to Mr. Rone, his detention should be analyzed under the regime of Section 1226, not
Mr. Rone’s argument is not persuasive; the Second Circuit’s forbearance policy does not
rise to the level of a formal stay of removal, let alone a reversal of the ICE’s decision. Several
district courts within the Third Circuit have found that the Second Circuit’s forbearance policy
does not convert a petitioner’s immigration detention status from Section 1231 to Section 1226.
See Brodyak v. Davies, No. 14-4351, 2015 WL 1197535, at *2 (D.N.J. Mar. 16, 2015) (noting
that since stay motion had not yet been granted, basis for petitioner’s immigration detention
remained under Section 1231); Grosset v. Muller, No. 13-0654, 2013 WL 6582944, at *2 n.2
(D.N.J. Dec. 13, 2013) (noting that since no court granted petitioner a stay of removal, detention
status remained under Section 1231 despite Second Circuit’s forbearance policy); Aziz v.
Attorney Gen. of US., No. 12-0673, 2012 WL 5207459, at *1 n.3 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 22, 2012)
(Section 1226 does not apply to forbearance of removal because no stay of removal had been
issued). Accordingly, as Mr. Rone remains in post-removal immigration detention, his current
detention is governed by Section 1231, and Zadvydas applies, not Section 1226 and the Third
Circuit’s decisions in Chavez—Alvarez v. Warden York Cntv. Prison, 783 F.3d 469 (3d Cir. 2015)
and Diop v. ICE/Homeland Sec., 656 F.3d 221 (3d Cir. 2011).
Mr. Rone also filed a letter on November 3, 2015 in which he argued that this Court
should hold his habeas petition in abeyance in light of the recent United States Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit’s decision in Lora v. Shanahan, No. 14-2343, 2015 WL 6499951 (2d Cir.
Oct. 28, 2015).’ In Lora, the Second Circuit expressly disagreed with the Third Circuit’s
This filing by Mr. Rone amounts, I suppose, to a sur-surreply. Although Mr. Rone did not
seek leave to file it, I will consider it in the interests ofjustice.
approach in determining what is a reasonable amount of time that an inunigration detainee can
be detained without a bail hearing under
§ 1226(c), or in the pre-removal period. Compare Lora,
2015 WL 6499951, at *10, with Chavez-Alvarez, 783 F.3d at 474-75. In Lora, the Second Circuit
adopted a bright-line approach whereby an immigration detainee held pursuant to
§ 1226(c) must
be afforded a bond hearing within six months of his detention. See 2015 WL 6499951, at 12.
Comparatively, this Circuit in Chavez-Alvarez took a more fact-specific approach in determining
when an immigration detainee is entitled to a bond hearing under
§ 1226(c). See 784 F.3d at 784-
85. The differences between the Second and the Third Circuit approaches notwithstanding, this
Court need not determine the impact of Lora on this case. Indeed, as described above, Mr. Rone
is now in immigration detention under
§ 1231, or post-removal immigration detention, not §
1226(c). Therefore, even if Lora were controlling this Circuit (which it is not), its holding would
not be apply.
The BIA dismissed Mr. Rone’s appeal on June 18, 2015, less than five months ago. He
remains within the presumptively reasonable six-month period of post-removal immigration
detention set forth in Zadvydas. Accordingly, his challenge to his post-removal immigration
detention is premature and does not warrant granting federal habeas relief at this time. Accord
Grosset, 2013 WL 6582994 at *3 (noting Zadvydas claim is premature if filed prior to expiration
of six-month presumptively reasonable period); Abdou v. Elwood, No. 12-7720, 2013 WL
1405774, at *3 (D.N.J. Apr. 4, 2013) (same).
Should the United States fail to execute the order of removal within a reasonable time,
such a claim may be reasserted. Any such claim should address the length of detention, the
reasons for detention, the prospect of a decision within a reasonable time, and whatever other
factors may bear on the analysis.
In the supplemental reply brief filed by pro bono counsel, Mr. Rone argues that he is also
entitled to federal habeas relief because ICE failed to comply with applicable regulations in its
September 15, 2015 decision to continue his detention. That decision, he says, erred in that it
failed to consider the factors set forth in 8 C.F.R.
Prior to the expiration of the ninety-day removal period set forth in 8 U.S.C.
123 l(a)(1)(A), the district director shall conduct a custody review for an alien where the removal
cannot be accomplished during the prescribed period. See 8 C.F.R.
§ 241 .4(k)( 1). The
regulations further provide that:
(e) Criteria for release. Before making any recommendation or
decision to release a detainee, a majority of the Review Panel
members, or the Director of the HQPDU in the case of a record
review, must conclude that:
(1) Travel documents for the alien are not available
or, in the opinion of the Service, immediate
removal, while proper, is otherwise not practicable
or not in the public interest;
(2) The detainee is presently a non-violent person;
(3) The detainee is likely to remain nonviolent if
(4) The detainee is not likely to pose a threat to the
community following release;
(5) The detainee is not likely to violate the
conditions of release; and
(6) The detainee does not pose a significant flight
risk if released.
(f) Factors for consideration. The following factors should be
weighed in considering whether to recommend further detention or
release of a detainee:
(1) The nature and number of disciplinary
infractions or incident reports received when
incarcerated or while in Service custody;
(2) The detainee’s criminal conduct and criminal
convictions, including consideration of the nature
and severity of the alien’s convictions, sentences
imposed and time actually served, probation and
criminal parole history, evidence of recidivism, and
other criminal history;
(3) Any available psychiatric and psychological
reports pertaining to the detainee’s mental health;
(4) Evidence of rehabilitation including institutional
progress relating to participation in work,
educational, and vocational programs, where
(5) Favorable factors, including ties to the United
States such as the number of close relatives residing
(6) Prior immigration violations and history;
(7) The likelihood that the alien is a significant
flight risk or may abscond to avoid removal,
including history of escapes, failures to appear for
immigration or other proceedings, absence without
leave from any halfway house or sponsorship
program, and other defaults; and
(8) Any other information that is probative of
whether the alien is likely to—
(i) Adjust to life in a community,
(ii) Engage in future acts of violence,
(iii) Engage in future criminal activity,
(iv) Pose a danger to the safety of himself or
herself or to other persons or to property, or
(v) Violate the conditions of his or her release
from immigration custody pending removal
from the United States.
§ 241 .4(e) & (f). The September 15, 2015 custody review, according to Mr. Rone,
failed to discuss those six criteria and eight factors.
On June 25, 2015, Mr. Rone was provided with a “Notice of Alien File Custody
Review.” (Dkt. No. 19-1 at p. 124) That document provided Mr. Rone with the following notice:
You are detained in the custody of the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) and you are required to cooperate with the ICE
in effecting your removal from the United States. If ICE has not
removed you from the United States within the removal period set
forth in iNA 241(a) (normally 90-days) of either: 1) your entering
INS/ICE custody with a final order of removal, deportation or
exclusion, or 2) the date of any final order you receive while you
are in INS/ICE custody, the ICE Deciding Official will review
your case for consideration of release on an Order of Supervision.
Release, however, is dependent on your demonstrating to the
satisfaction of the Attorney General that you WILL NOT pose a
danger to the community and WILL NOT present a flight risk.
Your custody status will be reviewed on or about (09/16/2015).
The Deciding Official may consider, but is not limited to the
1 .Criminal convictions and criminal
2. Other criminal and immigration history;
3. Sentence(s) imposed and time actually
4. History of escapes, failures to appear for
judicial or other proceedings, and other
5. Probation history;
6. Disciplinary problems while incarcerated;
7. Evidence of rehabilitative effort or
8. Equities in the United States;
9. Cooperation in obtaining your travel
10. Any available mental health problems.
You may submit documentation you wish to be reviewed in
support of your release, prior to the date listed above[.]
(Dkt. No. 19-I at p. 124) Subsequently, ICE issued its decision to continue detention on
September 15, 2015. That decision stated the following:
This letter is to inform you that your custody has been reviewed
and it has been determined that you will not be released from
custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
at this time. This decision has been made based on a review of
your file and/or your personal interview and consideration of any
information you submitted to ICE’s reviewing officials.
A review of your immigration history reveals that on June 18,
2015, the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed your appeal of
the Immigration Judge’s December 29, 2014 decision. On or about
June 25, 2015, you filed a Petition for Review and a motion to stay
removal within the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. Your
removal is not being enforced at this time because of the Second
Circuit’s forbearance policy, which precludes removal while your
stay motion is pending.
Based on the aforementionedfactors , you are to remain in ICE
custody pending the adjudication of your stay motion and, if
granted, until your Petition for Review is decided. You are advised
that you must demonstrate that you are making reasonable efforts
to comply with the order of removal and that you are cooperating
with ICE’s efforts to remove you by takin whatever actions ICE
requests to affect your removal.
(Dkt. No. 28-1 at p. 2 (emphasis added).) This decision, says Mr. Rone, was impermissible
because it relied solely on his filing of a motion to stay and petition for review with the Second
Circuit, and the Second Circuit’s forbearance policy—not the factors in the regulation.
Mr. Rone’s reads the September 15, 2015 decision too narrowly. As ICE’s decision to
continue Mr. Rone’s detention indicates, it was based on a review of his file and his personal
interview as well as any information he submitted to ICE. Furthermore, ICE stated that “based
on the aforementioned factors,” Mr. Rone was to remain in ICE custody. I interpret “the
aforementioned factors” to refer to the factors that ICE cited in its June 25, 2015 Notice to Mr.
Rone. The regulations do not require that the ICE recite the factors one by one and explain how
each does or does not apply.
Mr. Rone relies on D ‘Alessandro v. Mukasey, 628 F. Supp. 2d 368 (W.D.N.Y. 2009).
That case, of course, does not bind this Court, but I also find it distinguishable. D ‘Alessandro
held that a February 2008 decision by ICE to continue an immigration detainee’s detention failed
to comply with the applicable regulations. That February 2009 ICE’s decision was as follows:
This letter is to inform you that your custody status has been
reviewed and it has been determined that you will not be released
from the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) at this time. This decision has been made based on a review
of your file and consideration of information you submitted to
ICE’s reviewing officials.
An Immigration Judge ordered you removed by from the United
States on October 26, 1998. You appealed your decision and on
March 30 1999 the Board of Immigration Appeal (BIA) affirmed
the judge’s decision. A second motion was filed with the BIA on
October 23”, 2007 and denied on November 27 2007 and your
case is currently pending with the 2” Circuit (SDNY).
A travel document for your removal from the United States to your
native country of Italy was available with the Consulate of Italy in
NYC, who agreed to issue a travel document to effect your
removal once an itinerary was received. You have failed to
demonstrate that there is no significant like [sic] hood of your
repatriation in the foreseeable future, pending the 2 Circuit issues
a decision on your case.
Based on the above, you are to remain in ICE custody pending
your removal form the United States.
(W.D.N.Y. Civ. No. 08-9 14, Dkt. No. 7-3 at p. 1 (emphasis added)). D ‘Alessandro also
determined that a later, February, 2009 ICE decision to continue custody was invalid because it
failed to allude to the factors of 8 C.F.R.
§ 241.4(e) and (f). The only finding arguably related to
those factors was a reference to the petitioner’s criminal history. 628 F. Supp. 2d at 393-94.
The D ‘Alessandro ICE decisions, unlike the one in this case, did not even generally
indicated that “aforementioned” regulatory factors had guided ICE’s discretion. Here, ICE made
specific reference to Mr. Rone’s file and acknowledged, generally if not specifically, that it was
basing its decision on “the aforementioned factors,” which had been outlined in the earlier, June
25, 2015 Notice to Alien of Custody Review. Accordingly, to the extent D ‘Alessandro might
constitute persuasive authority, it is not on point.
Accordingly, this Court finds that ICE did not fail to comply with the applicable
regulations in its September 15, 2015 Decision to Continue Custody. Habeas relief on these
grounds is denied.
For the foregoing reasons, Mr. Rone’s application to seal is denied without prejudice and
his application for the appointment of counsel is denied as moot. His habeas petition is denied
without prejudice. An appropriate Order will be entered.
Dated: November 12, 2015
United States District Judge
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