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Figueroa v. McDonald

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 14, 2018

JAIME ANTONIO ALVAREZ FIGUEROA, Petitioner,
v.
JOSEPH D. MCDONALD, JR., ANTONE MONIZ, and THOMAS BROPHY, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner Jaime Antonio Alvarez Figueroa, who was born in El Salvador, has lived in the United States for 13 years. His two-year-old daughter is a United States citizen. Petitioner has been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) custody since April 26, 2017, when he reported to Chelsea District Court for a pretrial hearing on misdemeanor criminal charges. ICE was waiting at the courthouse and detained him.

         Alvarez Figueroa initially filed a habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on January 18, 2018, requesting that this Court set bond for him while his immigration proceedings were pending. See Docket No. 1 at 6-7. Respondents moved to dismiss the petition on February 13, 2018. See Docket No. 14. After new counsel was appointed for Petitioner, he filed an amended petition, claiming that (1) ICE was refusing to transport him to his criminal proceedings in state court, (2) his year-long detention was unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional, and (3) his detention was unlawful because he had not received a constitutionally adequate bond hearing in immigration court. See Docket No. 33 ¶¶ 26-43. Petitioner opposed the motion to dismiss. See Docket No. 34. The government filed supplemental briefing on the merits of the amended claims. See Docket No. 39; Docket No. 45.

         On May 2, 2018, the Court held a hearing on the motion to dismiss and the merits of Alvarez Figueroa's petition. That same day, the Court ordered ICE to transport Alvarez Figueroa to all future hearings for the state criminal charges. See Docket No. 41 at 1-2. That order disposed of Counts I and II in the amended petition, as it granted the relief requested. See Docket No. 33 ¶¶ 26-33. Two additional counts remain before the Court: the claim of unreasonably prolonged detention, and the claim of an unconstitutional bond hearing. See Docket No. 33 ¶¶ 34-43.

         After a hearing and a review of the briefs, the Court DENIES Respondents' motion to dismiss (Docket No. 14). The Court ALLOWS the habeas petition, and ORDERS that Petitioner be released from detention, unless the immigration court holds a bond hearing within 14 days where the government bears the burden of proving that Alvarez Figueroa must be detained because he is dangerous or a flight risk.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Alvarez Figueroa is 29 years old and originally from El Salvador. Docket No. 33 ¶ 12. He arrived in the United States in 2005, fleeing threats from gang members in El Salvador and seeking to join his mother and siblings who already lived in this country. See Docket No. 33 ¶¶ 12-13; Docket No. 1 at 10. Alvarez Figueroa was detained when he entered the United States and later released on a bond. Docket No. 1 at 10. He then traveled to East Boston, where he resided until the time of his detention by ICE. Docket No. 1 at 10.

         Petitioner's entire family lives in the Boston area, and his youngest sibling is a United States citizen. Docket No. 33 ¶ 13. Alvarez Figueroa also has a daughter, born in July 2016, who is a United States citizen. Docket No. 33 ¶ 13; Docket No. 1 at 12. He married the mother of his child, Tatianna Chavez, on May 2, 2018. See Docket No. 42. Before he was detained, Alvarez Figueroa worked as the head cook at Ginger Exchange, a restaurant with locations in Cambridge and Boston, to support Chavez and his daughter. Docket No. 33 ¶ 13; Docket No. 1 at 12-13.

         On March 20, 2017, Alvarez Figueroa was arrested for driving without a license, operating under the influence, and possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle. Docket No. 33 ¶ 14. He had never been arrested prior to that date. Docket No. 33 ¶ 14. He was arraigned in Chelsea District Court on the day of his arrest, and released on personal recognizance. Docket No. 33 ¶ 14. When he reported to Chelsea District Court for a pretrial hearing on April 26, 2017, ICE took him into custody outside the courthouse. Docket No. 33 ¶ 15.

         Petitioner had a custody redetermination hearing in front of an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) on June 27, 2017. Docket No. 33 ¶ 17. The IJ placed the burden of proof on Alvarez Figueroa and denied his request for release, finding that he had failed to prove that he was not a danger to the community in light of the pending misdemeanor charges. Docket No. 33 ¶ 17. Petitioner did not appeal the IJ's bond decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”). See Docket No. 15-4 ¶ 5. Since April 26, 2017, Alvarez Figueroa has been detained at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility and was unable to attend any pretrial hearings in his state criminal matter prior to filing this habeas petition. Docket No. 33 ¶ 15.

         Alvarez Figueroa was ordered removed on July 18, 2006, but he never received notice of a hearing and did not find out about the removal order until he was arrested by ICE in 2017. See Docket No. 33 ¶ 16; Docket No. 1 at 9. Based on the lack of notice, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen his immigration proceedings, which the IJ granted on June 1, 2017. Docket No. 33 ¶ 16. Alvarez Figueroa's asylum application was denied by the IJ on November 29, 2017. Docket No. 33 ¶ 18. His timely appeal is now pending before the BIA. Docket No. 33 ¶ 18.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Moti ...


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