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Candra v. Cronen

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 21, 2019



          Patti B. Saris Chief U.S. District Judge.


         Plaintiffs Bobby Candra, an Indonesian national, and his three U.S. citizen children bring this action against a number of government officials to challenge U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”)'s denial of Candra's most recent application for an administrative stay of removal. Candra brings a petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that ICE's denial of his stay application and attempt to remove him violate due process. The Candra Children bring an action under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) alleging that the denial was an abuse of discretion and a violation of their own Fifth Amendment due process rights. The Government has moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

         After hearing, the Government's motion to dismiss (Docket No. 25) is ALLOWED without prejudice.


         I. The Parties

         Candra, an Indonesian national, has lived and worked in the United States since 2000. He resides with his wife and children in Somersworth, New Hampshire. For almost seven years, he has worked as a machine operator and maintenance technician for Natural Rocks Ice Company in Eliot, Maine. He is an active member of his community and participates in activities at his children's schools.

         The Candra Children, a daughter and two sons, are all U.S. citizens born in New Hampshire. Candra's daughter, Zhafirah, 15, attends Somersworth High School and Career Training Center. She plans to matriculate in college and hopes to become an environmental engineer. Candra's older son, Albert, 14, attends Somersworth Middle School. Candra's younger son, Muhammad, is six years old. None of the three children speaks, reads, or writes Indonesian.

         Candra describes his family as “moderate” Muslims. If he is deported and his family follows him to Indonesia, he believes that his children will face discrimination by religious and anti-American extremists. He also believes that Indonesian law will require his children to eventually choose between their Indonesian and U.S. citizenships. He is particularly concerned about Zhafirah's future in Indonesia because she will have to wear a hijab and will not receive the mental health care she needs.

         Defendants are two local officials from ICE and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, who oversees ICE.

         II. Candra's Immigration History

         Candra entered the United States in August 2000 on a B-1 nonimmigrant visitor visa valid for three months. He overstayed his visa and was ordered removed on May 22, 2006. He did not leave the United States, and ICE never removed him.

         In May 2013, ICE placed Candra under an order of supervision requiring him to report monthly to the ICE office in Manchester, New Hampshire. Two months later, he applied to ICE for a one-year administrative stay of removal, which ICE granted. He sought and received a similar one-year stay each year from 2014 to 2016.

         In January 2017, Candra applied for another stay of removal. ICE denied his application on February 8, 2017. He reapplied on September 13, 2017 and was again denied. ICE's denials came on form letters without any factual basis or reasoning. Instead, the letters stated simply that ICE “carefully reviewed [his] file, as well as the factors addressed in the Application for a Stay of Deportation or Removal, ” and “determined that the grant of such discretionary relief [was] not sufficiently warranted.” Docket No. 3, Exs. P-Q. Plaintiffs allege that ICE did not in fact engage in any analysis of Candra's circumstances and instead has a blanket policy of denying stay applications.[1]

         Later that month, Candra asked the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) to reopen his removal proceedings so that he could seek relief from his removal order. The BIA denied the motion to reopen on February 27, 2018. Candra's then-counsel did not inform him that his motion had been denied until more than thirty days had passed. As a consequence, Candra missed the deadline for seeking review of the BIA's denial of his motion to reopen in the First Circuit. On April 27, 2018, Candra asked the BIA to reissue its decision to allow him an opportunity to file a petition for review with the First Circuit. It is not clear whether the BIA has ruled on this request.

         All the while, Candra has been regularly reporting to ICE. Compl. ¶ 33. During an early April 2018 visit, ICE attached an ankle bracelet to him and ordered him to report back on April 13 with proof of a plane ticket to leave the United States on or before May 3, 2018. Id. Candra purchased a plane ticket and reported to ICE as required on April 13. Compl. ¶ 34.

         III. Plaintiffs' Lawsuit

         Plaintiffs filed suit on April 27, 2018. The complaint pleads two causes of action challenging ICE's September 2017 denial of Candra's application for a stay of removal. In Count I, Candra brings a petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that, after ICE granted him four prior stays of removal, ICE's denial of his latest stay application and subsequent attempt to remove him violate his Fifth Amendment due process rights. Specifically, he alleges that the agency did not consider the unique circumstances of his situation or give him a chance to challenge his removal. In Count II, the Candra Children bring a claim under the APA arguing that ICE's denial of the stay application was arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion and violated their due process rights by forcing them to leave the United States when their father is removed.[2]

         Plaintiffs ask the Court to stay Candra's removal until the BIA rules on his latest motion to reopen and he exhausts his administrative and judicial challenges to removal. They also request an injunction vacating ICE's denial of his stay application and requiring ICE to grant any future stay applications unless it makes ...

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