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Reynoso v. Aviles

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 4, 2015

OSCAR AVILES, in his official capacity as Director of Hudson County Department of Corrections; CHRISTOPHER SHANAHAN, in his official capacity as New York Field Office Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; JEH JOHNSON, in his official capacity as Secretary of Homeland Security; ERIC HOLDER, in his official capacity as the Attorney General of the United States; and the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, Respondents.


PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

Jose Aristedes Holguin Reynoso ("Holguin"), an alien, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Holguin is detained in prison in New York, pursuant to a detainer issued by the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") while proceedings to remove him from the United States are underway. Holguin claims that he is entitled to an individualized bond hearing to determine whether he presents a danger to the community or a risk of flight. He argues that DHS lacked authority under the mandatory detention statute, § 236(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c), [1] to detain him without such a hearing. For the reasons that follow, the Court rejects Holguin's claim.

I. Background[2]

A. Holguin's Citizenship and Immigration Status

Holguin was born in 1977 in the Dominican Republic. Pet. ¶ 18; id. Ex. D. In 2000, he married Arelis Altagracia Ventura Rodriguiz ("Ventura"), who is also from the Dominican Republic. Id. ¶ 18; id. Ex. A. They have one child, a son born in 2000 in New Jersey. Id . ¶ 18. In 2007, Holguin entered the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Id .; id. Ex. D. In 2010, Ventura became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Id. 1118. Since Holguin's arrival in the United States, he has lived with his wife and son in New Jersey (except when he has been in custody) and has typically maintained employment. Id. 19.

B. Holguin's Criminal History

In January 2013, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") began investigating a drug trafficking organization that was distributing significant quantities of heroin in the New York City area. Based on intercepted phone calls and physical surveillance, agents concluded that members of the organization would be preparing packages of heroin for redistribution at an apartment in the Bronx. See id. Exs. E, F.

On May 13, 2013, agents entered that apartment, where they came upon an active heroin mill. Id. Ex. E. When the agents entered, Holguin and several others tried to flee via the fire escape, but were caught. Id. During the ensuing search of the apartment, agents recovered multiple packages of heroin, packaging materials, coffee grinders used to grind heroin, loose heroin that had not yet been packaged, and glassine envelopes. Id. Holguin and others were arrested that day on narcotics charges. Id. [3]

Holguin cooperated "immediately" with the Government. Id. According to the Government, his cooperation was "critical" and "proved helpful immediately." Id. On December 3, 2013, Holguin pled guilty, pursuant to a cooperation agreement, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin. On July 22, 2014, he was sentenced to time served, amounting to approximately 14 months imprisonment. See Gov't Response, Ex. 2; see also United States v. Holguin, 13 Cr. 438 (KPF), Dkt. 218. Holguin was released from custody on or about July 22, 2014, after which he remained subject to supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. See Dkt. 8 ("Holguin Br."), Ex. L; Pet. Ex. I; see also 13 Cr. 438, Dkt. 218.

C. The Removal Proceedings

On October 9, 2014, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") arrested Holguin and initiated removal proceedings against him by issuing a Notice to Appear ("NTA"). Pet. ¶ 2; id. Ex. H.

As the basis for removal, ICE contended that Holguin was removable on two statutory grounds, both triggered by his narcotics conviction: (1) INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i), which provides for removal following a conviction for a controlled substance violation after being admitted; and (2) INA § 237(a)(2)(A)(iii), which provides for removal following a conviction for an aggravated felony after being admitted. Id. Ex. H.

Significant here, ICE also determined that Holguin is subject to mandatory detention under § 1226(c), and therefore was not entitled to an individualized bond hearing. On that basis, Holguin has been detained since October 9, 2014, without such a hearing. Pet. ¶ 2. Holguin's next removal hearing is scheduled for February 13, 2015. Gov't Response, Ex. 5

D. Holguin's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

On December 2, 2014, Holguin filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court. Dkt. 1. His argument is that the mandatory detention statute, § 1226(c), does not apply to him, because he was taken into ICE custody two-and-a-half months after his release from criminal custody, whereas the statute provides for mandatory detention only for covered aliens whom DHS detains "when... released" from criminal custody. On that basis, he seeks a bond hearing.

On January 5, 2015, the parties proposed, and the Court approved, an expedited briefing schedule. Dkt. 4-5. On January 8, 2015, Holguin filed a memorandum of law in support of his petition. Holguin Br. On January 20, 2015, respondents filed an opposition. Dkt. 11 ("Gov't Br."). On January 23, 2015, Holguin replied. Dkt. 12 ("Holguin Reply Br.").

II. Jurisdiction

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction to hear Holguin's petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).

The Court is not deprived of jurisdiction by 8 U.S.C. § 1226(e), which prohibits judicial review of "[t]he Attorney General's discretionary judgment" regarding "the detention or release of any alien or the grant, revocation, or denial of bond or parole." That is because Holguin's petition challenges not a discretionary decision whether to grant release, but DHS's construction of the mandatory detention statute. See, e.g., Garcia v. Shanahan, 615 F.Supp.2d 175, 179 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) ("While the Immigration and Nationality Act... precludes review of the Attorney General's discretionary judgment' with regard to detention or release of any alien or the grant, revocation, or denial of bond or parole, ' 8 U.S.C. § 1226(e), the United States Supreme Court rejected the contention that § 1226(e) deprives courts of jurisdiction to consider challenges to the interpretation of the mandatory detention statute.") (citing Demore v. Kim, 538 U.S. 510, 517 (2003)); Monestime v. Reilly, 704 F.Supp.2d 453, 456 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) ("[A] district court may review ...

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