ROJAS v. RODRIGUEZ et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 05/10/2017. (ek)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
MARCEL PINEDA ROJAS,
Civil Action No. 16-9358 (JLL)
ORLANDO RODRIGUEZ, et al.,
LINARES, District Judge:
Currently before the Court is the petition for a writ of habeas corpus of Petitioner, Marcel
Pineda Rojas, 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. 6). Petitioner did not file
a reply. For the following reasons, this Court denies the petition without prejudice.
Petitioner is a native and citizen of Guatemala who entered this country at some point prior
to July 2015. (Document I attached to ECF No. 6 at 2). On July 24, 2015, Petitioner was convicted
of possession of cocaine in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County. (M). Following
Petitioner’s release from custody on that charge, Petitioner was taken into immigration custody on
September 8, 2015, and placed into removal proceedings.
On february 16, 2016, an
immigration judge ordered Petitioner removed from the United States and denied all of Petitioner’s
applications for relief from removal. (Id. at 3, Document 5 attached to ECf No. 6). Petitioner
appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, but that appeal was dismissed on June 3, 2016.
(Document 7 attached to ECF No. 6). Petitioner thereafler filed a petition for review with the
Third Circuit. (Document 1 attached to ECF No. 6 at 3). Petitioner, however, did not file a motion
for a stay. (ECF Docket Sheet for Third Circuit Docket No. 16-3043).
In June 2016, immigration officials contacted the Guatemalan consulate and requested that
a travel document be issued for Petitioner. (Document I attached to ECF No. 6 at 3). The
consulate told immigration officials that a travel document would be issued following a decision
from the Court of Appeals on Petitioner’s petition for review. (Id.). On April 11, 2017, the Third
Circuit issued an order and opinion dismissing in part and denying in part Petitioner’s petition for
review. Fineda-Rojas v. Atty Gen., No. 16-3043, 2017 WL 1325682 (3d Cir. Apr. 11, 2017).
A. Legal Standard
Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 224 1(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.” 2$ U.S.C.
224 l(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 petition, Petitioner contends that his continued immigration detention violates Due
Process. Because Petitioner is subject to a final order of removal insomuch as the Board of
Immigration Appeals dismissed his appeal of his removal order and Petitioner neither sought nor
received a stay from the Third Circuit, see $ U.S.C.
detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C.
§ 123 1(a)(1)(B), Petitioner is currently
§ 123 1(a), and the propriety of his detention is controlled by the
Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas. In Zadvydas, the Supreme Court held that, following a
final order of removal, the Government is required to detain an alien throughout a ninety-day
statutory removal period. 533 U.S. at 683. As the statute further permits the Government to
continue to detain aliens beyond that ninety-day period so long as the detention remains
“reasonably necessary” to effectuate their removal, the Zadvydas Court in turn held that an alien
may be detained under
§ 1231(a) for a period of up to six months following his final order of
removal during which his detention will be presumed to be reasonable. Id. at 701.
An alien detained under
§ 1231(a) may therefore not challenge his detention under that
statute until this six-month presumptive period expires.
Even after this presumptively
reasonable period expires, an alien will not be entitled to relief from immigration detention unless
he can “provide good reason to believe that there is no significant likelihood of removal in the
reasonabl.y foreseeable future.” Alexander v. Atty Gen., 495 F. App’x 274, 276 (3d Cir. 2012)
(quoting Zadvydas, 533 U.S. at 701). Where an alien makes such a showing, the Government is
required to rebut the evidence submitted by the alien and show that the alien’s removal is likely in
the reasonably foreseeable future in order to establish that the alien’s detention remains
In this matter, Petitioner has been held for approximately eleven months following the
entry of his final order of removal in June 2016. Petitioner provides no evidence other than the
length of his detention in support of his assertion that there is no significant likelihood of his
removal in the reasonably foreseeable future. Even if this Court were to assume that the length of
Petitioner’s detention alone is sufficient to provide good reason to believe his removal is not likely
in the near future, the Government has more than rebutted that showing by submitting evidence
which suggests that the Guatemalan Consulate has been prepared to issue a travel document for
the entirety of Petitioner’s post-final order detention, and has merely been waiting for the outcome
of Petitioner’s petition for review before doing so. (Document 1 attached to ECF No. 6).
Because the Third Circuit has now dismissed in part and denied in part Petitioner’s petition
for review, and Petitioner has neither sought nor received a stay of removal, that impediment to
the Consulate’s issuance of a travel document no longer exists and a travel document should
therefore be forthcoming in the near future. Thus, the record currently before the Court is more
than sufficient to rebut any showing Petitioner has made to suggest he is unlikely to be removed
in the foreseeable future now that the Third Circuit has ruled upon his petition for review, and
Petitioner has thus failed to establish that there is no reasonable likelihood of his removal in the
reasonably foreseeable future. Petitioner is therefore not entitled to relief under Zathydas based
on the record before the Court, and his petition must be denied without prejudice as result.
Alexander, 495 F. App’x at 276.
For the reasons expressed above, this Court will deny Petitioner’s petition for a writ of
habeas corpus (ECF No. 1) without prejudice. An appropriate order follows.
States District Judge
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