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Argueta Anariba v. Shanahan

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 14, 2017

ANGEL AGUSTIN ARGUETA ANARIBA, Petitioner,
v.
CHRISTOPHER SHANAHAN, et al., Respondents.

          OPINION & ORDER

          KATHERINE B. FORREST, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is now before this Court for the fourth and final time on petitioner Angel Agustin Argueta Anaribia's (“Argueta” or “petitioner”) claim that he has been deprived of his right to an adequate bond hearing under Lora v. Shanahan, 804 F.3d 601 (2d Cir. 2015). As of the date of this opinion, Argueta has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) for approximately three years.

         Argueta's motion to compel his release once again argues that respondents have not provided him with an adequate Lora hearing because the Immigration Judge (“IJ”) failed to apply the appropriate “clear and convincing” legal standard in an individualized analysis of his future dangerousness and/or risk of flight. (See generally Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. to Compel Pet.'s Release (“Pet. Mem.”), ECF No. 42.) This Court disagrees. For the reasons stated below, the Court hereby DENIES Argueta's petition in full.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes familiarity with the relevant facts of this matter, which are discussed in its decisions at ECF Nos. 10, 25, and 39. The Court refers the reader to those opinions for the facts underlying Argueta's unauthorized entry, criminal history, immigration detention, and efforts to compel release in this Court. Below, the Court briefly reviews those facts most relevant to resolution of the current petition.

         On June 2, 2016, this Court held that Argueta qualified for a Lora hearing. (ECF No. 10.) After a hearing was held in his absence on June 21, 2016, Argueta filed a motion to compel release on the basis that his unwilling absence rendered that Lora hearing procedural improper. (ECF Nos. 12-14.) This Court agreed that the hearing was procedurally deficient, and ordered that the Government provide Argueta with an adequate Lora hearing within twenty days or release him. (ECF No. 25.) Accordingly, a second Lora hearing was held on November 7, 2016; Argueta appeared by video conference.

         During the November 7, 2016 hearing, the IJ ruled on the record that “the Government has met its burden of proof that [Argueta] is a danger to the community and a flight risk.” (Nov. 7, 2016 Trans. At 14:3-5.) On February 12, 2017, Argueta filed a second motion to compel release on the basis that the IJ did not properly hold the Government to the requisite “clear and convincing” burden of proof. (ECF No. 28-30.) Noting that the IJ did not issue a written decision and did not mention or discuss Lora's clear and convincing standard at any point during the November 7, 2016 hearing, this Court agreed with Argueta and remanded the action to the IJ “for an expeditious clarification of the standard applied an individualized analysis of that standard's application here.” (ECF No. 39.)

         On August 16, 2017, the IJ issued a Memorandum Decision in compliance with this Court's directive. (See generally Mem. Dec. of the IJ (“IJ Bond Dec.”), ECF No. 40.) Therein, the IJ clearly and unequivocally recognized that “the government bears the burden to establish ‘by clear and convincing evidence that the immigrant poses a risk of flight or a risk of danger to the community.'” (Id. at 2-3 (citing Lora, 804 F.3d at 612).) The IJ then provided a complete and thorough analysis of the evidence regarding Argueta's conduct before, during, and after his imprisonment, and concluded that “DHS has established by clear and convincing evidence that [Argueta] is a risk of danger to the community, a ‘specially dangerous individual' and a flight risk.” (Id. at 2.)

         In response, Argueta filed a third motion to compel his release on October 23, 2017. (ECF Nos. 41-42.) Argueta's petition argues, in sum and substance, that the IJ's written decision fails to properly apply the requisite “clear and convincing” standard in determining whether Argueta is a danger to the community and/or flight risk. (See Pet. Mem. at 6.) The heart of Argueta's argument is that the IJ: (1) did not properly explain how he applied the “clear and convincing standard” (stating instead that he “assigned greater weight” to Argueta's “violent behavior” and “lesser weight” to Argueta's rehabilitation efforts); (2) did not address any of the factors that should be weighed; and (3) did not adequately consider evidence of Argueta's recent rehabilitation. (Id. at 6-8.)

         The Government opposed Argueta's petition for release on November 21, 2017 (ECF No. 45), and Argueta replied on December 5, 2017 (ECF No. 48). For the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that the IJ properly applied the requisite legal standard under Lora, that there are no grounds to second guess the IJ's findings or conclusions, and that Argueta's petition for release must be denied on that basis.

         II. LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         “The Due Process Clause applies to all ‘persons' within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence is lawful or unlawful, temporary or permanent.” Lora, 804 F.3d at 613 (quoting Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 693 (2001)). It is well-settled that “the Fifth Amendment entitles aliens to due process in deportation proceedings.” Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 306 (1993). In Lora, the Second Circuit held that “in order to avoid the constitutional concerns raised by indefinite detention, an immigrant detained pursuant to section 1226(c) must be afforded a bail hearing before an immigration judge within six months of his or her detention.” 804 F.3d at 616.

         Constitutional due process requires that a person detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) “must be admitted to bail unless the government establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the immigrant poses a risk of flight or a risk of danger to the community.” Lora, 804 F.3d at 616; see also Rodriguez v. Robbins, 715 F.3d 1127, 1144 (9th Cir. 2013) (“[B]ond hearings must be held before a neutral IJ with the government bearing the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence.”); Singh v. Holder, 638 F.3d 1196, 1203-04 (9th Cir. 2011) (“Because it is improper to ask the individual to ‘share equally with society the risk of error when the possible injury to the individual'-deprivation of liberty-is so significant, a clear and convincing evidence standard of proof provides the appropriate level of procedural protection.” (quoting Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418, 427 (1979)).

         A district court will not second-guess an IJ's decision “with respect to the appropriate weight to be assigned to the evidence presented at his bond hearing.” Hassan v. Holder, No. 11-cv-7157, 2014 WL 142479, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 15, 2017). However, failure to apply the correct legal standard and to hold the government to its burden of proof renders a bond hearing “constitutionally deficient” under Lora. See Cepeda v. Shanahan, No. 15-cv-9446, 2016 WL 3144394, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 22, 2016); Vargas v. Davies, No. 15-cv-3525, 2016 WL 3044850, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. May 27, 2017) (‚ÄúPetitioner may have a viable constitutional claim to the extent ...


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