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Valdovinos-Diaz v. Sessions

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 7, 2018

MARIA VALDOVINOS-DIAZ, Petitioner,
v.
JEFF SESSIONS, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS WITHOUT PREJUDICE RE: DKT. NO. 1

          PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is petitioner Maria Valdovinos-Diaz's petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Dkt. 1. The matter is fully briefed and suitable for decision without oral argument. Having read the parties' papers and carefully considered their arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the court hereby rules as follows.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner Valdovinos-Diaz is a citizen and national of Mexico. Dkt. 1 ¶ 4; Dkt. 11 (“Dutra Decl.”), Ex. A. She has two children who are United States citizens and is married to a lawful permanent United States resident. Dkt. 13 at 3. Valdovinos-Diaz is not a U.S. citizen and is being held in detention by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security (“ICE”) pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(6). Dkt. 1 ¶ 13; Dkt. 10 at 2. Petitioner has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with this court, asserting three causes of action: (1) violation of Immigration and Nationality Act and Regulations; (2) violation of Fifth Amendment Due Process; and (3) violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Dkt. 1. Petitioner seeks an order requiring an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) to hold a bond hearing and attorneys' fees and costs. Dkt. 1 at 8.

         In 2000, petitioner was subject to expedited removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b)(1) for presenting fraudulent documents in an attempt to gain entry to the United States. Dutra Decl. ¶ 3 & Ex. A. Petitioner subsequently re-entered the United States and applied for relief before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) based on her marriage to her husband, but she did not disclose her prior removal order and was arrested when she attended her USCIS interview. Id. at ¶¶ 4-5; Dkt. 13 at 3. On June 22, 2017, ICE arrested and detained petitioner to reinstate her prior order of removal. Dutra Decl. ¶ 5 & Ex. B.

         Petitioner expressed fear of returning to her home country and had a “positive” reasonable fear interview, so petitioner was placed into withholding-only proceedings, where her only available form of relief is an application for withholding of removal. Dkt. 13 at 3. Petitioner was referred to an immigration judge for withholding-only proceedings.[1] Dutra Decl. ¶ 6 & Ex. C.

         At some point not specified in the record, petitioner requested a bond hearing. On August 29, 2017, the IJ denied petitioner's motion for a bond hearing, finding her not eligible. Id. at ¶ 7 & Ex. D. Petitioner did not appeal the IJ's decision. Id. at ¶ 7. On December 29, 2017, the IJ issued an order notifying the parties that he would hold a hearing to determine whether petitioner was eligible for bond. Id. at ¶ 9. On January 17, 2018-before the noticed IJ hearing-petitioner filed the present petition for writ of habeas corpus with this court. Dkt. 1. On January 23, 2018, the IJ denied petitioner's motion for a bond hearing, citing “lack of jurisdiction” and writing that she was “not entitled to a Diouf hearing at this time.” Id. at ¶ 10 & Ex. F (likely referring to Diouf v. Napolitano, 634 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2011)). Petitioner reserved appeal of that decision. Id. Petitioner has not appealed the IJ's order denying a bond hearing to the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”). Id. at ¶ 10.

         Meanwhile, petitioner had been challenging her removal order by attempting to withhold removal. On September 29, 2017, the IJ denied some of petitioner's requests, although the supporting document provided to the court is redacted in substance. Id. at ¶ 8 & Ex. E. Petitioner appealed that decision-although not the decision regarding a bond hearing-to the BIA. On March 14, 2018, the BIA dismissed her appeal. Id. at ¶ 8. She filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (case no. 18-70811, Valdovinos-Diaz v. Sessions). The removal was automatically stayed, and the Ninth Circuit case is currently pending.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, a federal district court is authorized to grant a writ of habeas corpus when a petitioner is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). “[A]liens may continue to bring collateral legal challenges to the Attorney General's detention authority . . . through a petition for habeas corpus.” Casas-Castrillon v. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 535 F.3d 942, 946 (9th Cir. 2008). Federal district courts have habeas jurisdiction under Section 2241 to review bond hearing determinations of an alien held in custody pursuant to removal proceedings. Singh v. Holder, 638 F.3d 1196, 1200 (9th Cir. 2011); Leonardo v. Crawford, 646 F.3d 1157, 1160 (9th Cir. 2011).

         B. Analysis

         Petitioner requests an order requiring a bond hearing before the immigration court, as well as attorneys' fees and costs. Dkt. 1 at 8. Respondents argue that the petition should be dismissed because petitioner did not exhaust administrative remedies and because petitioner is not entitled to a bond hearing.

         The Ninth Circuit has clearly stated the proper administrative procedure for ...


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