Chavez Saucedo v. Morones
W.D. Wa. at Seattle
Dec. 17, 2004
In December of 2004, a United States District Judge in the Western District of Washington issued an order granting a temporary restraining order against the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“BICE”), preventing the Bureau from detaining the Petitioner under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s mandatory detention statute pending a hearing on whether the mandatory detention statute even applied.
The Petitioner is a native and citizen of Mexico and has lived in the United States since 1984. He became a legal resident of the United States in 1997. The Petitioner was convicted on May 1, 2003 for possession of a narcotic in violation of an Oregon statute, and was sentenced to eighteen months probation and ten days in confinement. He was released by the state on May 18, 2003.
On October 19, 2004, immigration officials took the Petitioner into custody for the May 2003 conviction. Simultaneously, the BICE issued a Notice to Appear, placing the Petitioner in removal proceedings. On November 15, 2004, the Immigration Judge determined that the Petitioner was not eligible for release and was subject to mandatory detention until his removal proceedings, as authorized under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) §236(c). The Petitioner filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus to challenge the legality of his detention by the BICE and asked for a temporary restraining order against the BICE, which would prevent the BICE from detaining him while waiting for the outcome of the habeas petition.
The Court stated that in order to grant the motion for the temporary restraining order, the Petitioner must demonstrate that (1) the Petitioner will probably succeed in the habeas petition on the merits and that the Petitioner will face irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted; or (2) that serious legal questions are raised by the Petitioner’s case and that the balance of hardship tips sharply in the Petitioner’s favor.
The Court found that the Petitioner’s case raised serious legal questions, that being whether the Petitioner is subject to the mandatory detention under INA § 236(c) at all. That section states, in relevant part, that
The Attorney General shall take into custody any alien who … is deportable by reason of having committed any offense covered in section 237 (a)(2) when the alien is released, without regard to whether the alien may be arrested or imprisoned again for the same offense. INA § 236(c) (emphasis added).
The court considered the precedent of other district court cases concerning the mandatory detention statute, each of which interpreted the phrase “when the alien is released” to mean that the alien must be taken into immigration custody immediately after release from state custody and not after a substantial amount of time has passed since the release from state custody. In this case, the Petitioner was not taken into immigration custody until eighteen months after his release from state custody.
The Court found that serious legal questions were raised by the Petitioner’s continued detainment under the mandatory detention statute despite the fact of the length of time between his state custody release and his immigration custody arrest. Additionally, the Court felt that the balance of hardship was tipped in the Petitioner’s favor since he had been detained from his family and job since his immigration arrest and would be until the Board of Immigration Appeals reviewed the Petitioner’s appeal. As such, the District Judge issued the temporary restraining order, preventing the BICE from detaining the Petitioner until the habeas petition as to the legality of his detainment could be determined.