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Al-Jabari v. U.S. Attorney General of America

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

November 7, 2018



          L. Scott Coogler United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         This is a petition for habeas corpus relief filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 wherein the petitioner, an Iraqi national, is arguing that his continued detention pending removal to Iraq violates substantive and procedural due process requirements pursuant to Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001). Petitioner is currently detained at the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, [1] subject to a final order of removal. For the following reasons, this action is subject to dismissal without prejudice unless Petitioner shows cause, as more fully stated below.

         II. General Legal Standard

         The Attorney General must remove an alien from the United States within 90 days after an order of removal becomes administratively final, but should removal not be accomplished within the 90-day removal period, detention is permitted to continue, provided, however, that it is limited to a presumptively reasonable time period, declared by Zadvydas and its progeny to be six months. See 533 U.S. at 690-92, 701; 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(1), (6). If removal is not reasonably foreseeable at the expiration of that time period, continued detention is not authorized under 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(6). Zadvydas, 533 U.S. at 699.

         III. Background

         Petitioner has been convicted of numerous crimes since first entering the United States in 1995, including retail fraud, maintaining a drug house, and forgery. (Declaration of Bryan S. Pitman, Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, New Orleans Field Office, assigned to the Etowah County Detention Center, doc. 7-2.) On January 31, 2012, an Immigration Judge ordered Petitioner removed from the United States to Iraq. (Id.) From December 28, 2012 until June 20, 2017, Petitioner was not in ICE custody due to stalled removal efforts with the Iraqi government. (Id.) Petitioner returned to ICE custody on June 20, 2017, following his most recent criminal conviction. (Id.)

         On June 15, 2017, a habeas action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of a putative class of Iraqi nationals challenging their detention pending deportation as contrary to Zadvydas. See Hamama v. Adducci, Case No. 17-cv-11910 (E.D. Mich.). Petitioner's imminent removal was halted when, on June 27, 2017, the Hamama court expanded its temporary restraining order staying the removal of Iraqi nationals within the jurisdiction of the ICE Detroit Field Office to all Iraqi nationals nationwide. See Hamama, 261 F.Supp.3d 820, 841 (E.D. Mich. 2017) (staying the removal of “all Iraqi nationals in the United States who had final orders of removal on June 24, 2017, and who have been, or will be, detained for removal by ICE”).

         On October 12, 2017, Petitioner was served with a notice of membership in the Hamama class, which included a Know Your Rights informational sheet and a voluntary removal packet that contained procedures to opt out of the putative class in Hamama. (Doc. 7-2.)

         On November 22, 2017, Petitioner filed a habeas petition in this Court, challenging his immigration detention during the pendency of the stay issued by the Hamama court under Zadvydas, and asserted a right to a bond hearing. See doc. 1 in Case No. 4:17-cv-01972-KOB-TMP. On January 2, 2018, the Hamama court certified three “subclasses” to address the immigration detention claims. Respondent asserts Petitioner is a member of a subclass challenging his continued detention under Zadvydas and also a member of the subclass challenging his prolonged detention without a bond hearing. For the Zadvydas claim, the Hamama court decided that further discovery was warranted. For the prolonged detention claim, the Hamama court entered a second preliminary injunction requiring bond hearings for certain Iraqi nationals who were subject to the court's stay of removal and who have been detained for a period exceeding six months. Hamama, 285 F.Supp.3d 997, 1008-09 (E.D. Mich. 2018). The subclasses excluded individuals (like Petitioner) who at the time had “open” individual habeas petitions. Id. However, the Hamama court ordered that the government serve detained Iraqis subject to the court's stay of removal with a notice informing them that they may join the detention subclasses (and become eligible for a bond hearing) if they withdraw their habeas petitions within three weeks from the receipt of the notice. On January 24, 2018, Petitioner voluntarily withdrew his previous habeas petition.

         On February 28, 2018, Judge Karon O. Bowdre dismissed Petitioner's petition without prejudice. In accordance with the directive from the Hamama court, Petitioner was afforded a bond hearing on February 6, 2018, and the Immigration Judge denied bond. (Doc. 7-2.)

         On March 15, 2018, Petitioner refiled the very same habeas petition with this Court. (Doc. 1). Like his initial petition, and the Hamama class habeas petition, Petitioner challenges his detention as contrary to Zadvydas and seeks release. (Id.). In the instant case, Respondent argues that Petitioner should not be allowed to seek duplicative habeas relief in this Court while he remains part of a certified class of individuals pursuing identical relief in a class habeas in Hamama, arguing that it would be an abuse of the writ to allow this case to proceed while the constitutionality of Petitioner's detention is already being considered by that court. (See doc. 7).

         In response, Petitioner states that he is no longer part of the Hamama subclass and submitted a signed “Detainee Stipulation to Prompt Removal to Iraq, ” dated May 15, 2018, wherein he stipulates that he wishes to be removed to Iraq and that the preliminary injunction in Hamama will no longer prevent that removal. (Doc. 9.)

         The magistrate judge recommended dismissal of this action without prejudice because Petitioner has not demonstrated that he (or class counsel on his behalf) has submitted the aforementioned “Detainee Stipulation to Prompt Removal to Iraq” with a request to be removed from the subclass to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, or that the Michigan court has ...

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