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IHEME v. RENO
April 27, 1993
MERLVYN C. IHEME, Petitioner,
JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and NANCY J. HOOKS, OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, OAKDALE, LOUISIANA, Respondents.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: EDWARD R. KORMAN
This case involves another outrageous example of the treatment of a deportable alien similar to that involved in the three consolidated cases filed under the caption of Nwankwo v. Reno, F. Supp. , 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4433 (E.D.N.Y. March 30, 1993). On October 2, 1991, the defendant was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport while attempting to import approximately 520 grams of a substance of which 7.4% was 6-monoacetylmorphine. On July 31, 1992, the defendant was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment, 3 years supervised release and a $ 50 special assessment.
On April 9, 1993, some five months after he completed his fifteen month sentence, the defendant was still incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Oakdale, Louisiana. In a letter, Mr. Iheme sought an order directing his deportation:
"I want to bring to your notice of my continued incarceration after serving my time for the offense committed. You sentenced me to a period of 15 months and 3 yrs. probation for importing Mono acetyl morphin with purity level of 7.4% on the 31st of July, 1992, on or about 2:30 p.m. I finish my sentence on the Nov. 2nd, 1992. On the Oct. 27, I was brought to Oakdale, Louisiana for deportation, since then I've been ordered deportable by Judge Johnson Duck Jr. However, this is my fifth month now still waiting for deportation to no avail, only told that my travelling documents are not ready.
Most important, I am a legal resident with two kids and a wife to take care of and now he wants to seperate these kids from their father in the name of deportation. I honestly think that I've learnt some thing for this time period incarcerated and vowed to abstain from crime. As at the time of my writing, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, do neither want to deport me nor release me so I can be with these kids of ages one and six.
Your Honor, kindly use your office to see that justice is done. I respectfully awaits to hear from you."
The letter was treated as a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On April 12, 1993, the United States Attorney was directed to respond to it.
In a response filed April 16, 1993, the United States Attorney confirmed the essential details of Mr. Iheme's pro se submission:
"The defendant completed his federal sentence on November 2, 1992, at which time he was transferred to the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (" INS") at the Federal Deportation Center in Oakdale, Louisiana. On January 11, 1993, Immigration Judge John A. Duck, Jr. issued an order declaring Iheme deportable. Iheme did not appeal that order, which became final on January 22, 1993. By letter dated January 29, 1993, INS formally requested that the Embassy of Nigeria issue travel documents for Iheme so that he could be deported. By letter dated April 5, 1993, INS forwarded Iheme's original passport to the Embassy of Nigeria and renewed its request for issuance of the requisite travel documents. On April 13, 1993, the Nigerian government approved Iheme for repatriation and advised INS that it will need approximately fourteen days to issue Iheme's travel documents. Accordingly, INS anticipates that Iheme will be deported by the end of April."
The conduct of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as described in the letter of the United States Attorney, is disgraceful. Section 701 of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provides:
In the case of an alien who is convicted of an offense which makes the alien subject to deportation, the Attorney General shall begin any deportation proceeding as expeditiously as possible after the date of the conviction.
In Soler v. Scott, 942 F.2d 597, 600 (9th Cir. 1991), vacated as moot, U.S. , 113 S. Ct. 454 (1992), Judge Browning set out concisely the "single objective" that Congress sought ...
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