ZAVALETA MENDOZA v. GREEN et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 8/8/2016. (seb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 16-1447 (JLL)
JOSE SALVADOR ZAVALETA
CHARLES GREEN, et at.,
LINARES, District Judge:
Presently before the Court is the petition for a writ of habeas corpus of Petitioner, Jose
Salvador Zavaleta Mendoza, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. (ECF No. 1). Following an
order to answer (ECF No. 2), the Government filed a response to the Petition. (ECF No. 4-5).
Petitioner did not file a reply. (ECF Docket Sheet). For the following reasons, this Court will
deny the petition without prejudice.
Petitioner is a native and citizen of El Salvador who arrived in this country on or about
June 6, 2014, by raft near Mission, Texas.
(Document 1 attached to ECF No. 4). Shortly after
his arrival, Petitioner was taken into custody by immigration officials within one hundred miles
of the border, and was placed into expedited removal proceedings on June 7, 2014. (Document 1
attached to ECF No. 4 at 3-4). Petitioner has been held in immigration detention since that time,
and is apparently not yet subject to a final order of removal. (ECF No. 4 at 1-2).
Although Petitioner asserts in his petition that he is detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C.
1226(c), and has thus been denied a bond hearing, the Government has submitted paperwork
which establishes that Petitioner is not being held as a criminal alien, and is instead detained
under the discretionary authority of the Government under $ U.S.C.
§ 1226(a). (Document 2
attached to ECF No. 4 at 2-3). Indeed, on January 27, 2016, Petitioner appeared before the
immigration court for a bond hearing, and was denied bond by an immigration judge based on an
outstanding Interpol warrant. (Id.). Although Petitioner originally reserved his right to appeal
that bond decision (Id. at 3), he ultimately elected to file an appeal of his bond denial order to the
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) on or about March 22, 2016. (Document 3 attached to
ECF No. 4). It is not clear from the record whether that appeal has been decided by the BIA as
A. Legal Standard
Under 2$ 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.
224 1(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.” 2$ 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 Zathydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 699 (2001).
In his habeas petition, Petitioner argues that he has been held pursuant to $ U.S.C.
1226(c) for more than a year without a bond hearing, and that he is therefore entitled to a bond
hearing pursuant to Diop v. ICE/Homeland Sec., 656 f.3d 221, 231-35 (3d Cir. 2011), and
Chavez-Alvarez v. Warden York County Prison, 783 F.3d 469 (3d Cir. 2015). The linchpin of
that argument is Petitioner’s contention that he is detained pursuant to
§ 1226(c), which does not
permit a bond hearing in the ordinary course. By Petitioner’s own admission in his bond order
appeal, however, he has already been afforded a bond hearing on January 27, 2016. (Document
3 attached to ECF No. 4). It is thus clear from the record that Petitioner is in fact detained
pursuant to 8 U.S.C.
§ 1226(a) and not § 1226(c) as he is not being held by immigration
authorities on the basis of a criminal conviction entered against Petitioner in the United States,
(see Documents 1-3 attached to ECF No. 4). See also Pena v. Davies, No. 15-7291, 2016 WL
74410, at *1.2 (D.N.J. Jan. 6, 2016)
( 1226(c) only applies to criminal aliens; the Government
has the authority to detain non-criminal aliens pursuant to
Even were Petitioner’s argument not fatally flawed, the only relief he could have received
from this Court in so much as he is not yet subject to a final order of removal is a bond hearing.
See Chavez-Alvarez, 783 F.3d at 474-76; Pena, 2016 WL 74410, at *2 (relief for pre-final order
immigration detainees pursuant to a habeas petition is limited to the ordering of a bond hearing).
It is clear in this matter that Petitioner has previously received a bond hearing, and is in the
process of appealing the denial of bond by an immigration judge. (Documents 2-3 attached to
ECF No. 4). Petitioner has thus already received the only relief that this Court could provide
him. Where a Petitioner has received a bona fide bond hearing before an immigration judge, this
Court “does not have the power to second guess the discretionary decision of the IJ to deny.
release on bond.” Fena, 2016 WL 74410, at *2; see also 8 U.S.C.
§ 1226(e) (the “Attorney
General’s discretionary judgment regarding the [granting or denial of bond] shall not be subject
to review. No court may set aside any action or decision [of an immigration judge] regarding the
detention or release of any alien, or the grant, revocation, or denial of bond or parole”); Reeves v.
Johnson, No. 15-1962, 2015 WL 1383942, at *3 (D.N.J. Mar. 24, 2015); Pisciotta v. Ashcroft,
311 F. Supp. 2d 445, 454 (D.N.J. 2004). Thus, Petitioner’s current habeas petition must be
denied without prejudice as Petitioner has already received the only relief available to him
and this Court lacks any authority to review the denial of bond by an immigration
judge afier such a hearing.
For the reasons stated above, this Court will deny Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas
corpus (ECF No. 1) without prejudice. An appropriate order follows.
J se L. mares,
n d States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?