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United States v. Ramos-Moran

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 13, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSE GABRIEL RAMOS-MORAN, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS THE INFORMATION, DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL, AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO CARRY FORWARD PREVIOUSLY FILED MOTIONS [ECF No. 29]

          HONORABLE LINDA LOPEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         On September 10, 2019, the Parties appeared before the Court regarding Defendant Jose Gabriel Ramos-Moran's Motions to Dismiss the Information, Motion to Compel Discovery, and Motion to Carry Forward Previously Filed Motions and Court Orders [ECF No. 29]. The Court DENIED Defendant's motions for the reasons stated on the record and as set forth in the analysis below.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On August 6, 2019, the Court arraigned Defendant on an Information charging Defendant with a single misdemeanor count of violating 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(1). ECF Nos. 25 and 26. Defendant entered a non-guilty plea. ECF No. 26. On August 13, 2019, Defendant filed the instant Motions to Dismiss the Information, Motion to Compel Discovery, and Motion to Carry Forward Previously Filed Motions and Court Orders. ECF No. 29. On August 16, 2019, the Government filed its Response. ECF No. 30.

         ANALYSIS

         I. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE INFORMATION UNDER THE NON-DELEGATION DOCTRINE

         Defendant moves to dismiss the Information on the grounds that Congress purportedly violated the non-delegation doctrine in enacting § 1325(a)(1). See ECF No. 29-1 at 3-6. Specifically, Defendant argues that “Congress delegated away its core legislative function when it allowed ‘immigration officers' to determine in their discretion what times and places to designate for entry without providing those officers with any guidance about how they should exercise their discretion.” Id. at 3. In its Response, the Government argues that § 1325 properly “establishes the existence of Ports of Entry but leaves to the Executive the practical implementation of where those Ports are and when they are open.” ECF No. 30 at 3. The Government denies Congress had “to be more specific.” Id.

         Article I of the Constitution provides that “[a]ll legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States[.]” USCS Const. Art. I, § 1. Accompanying this assignment of power “is a bar on its further delegation.” Gundy v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2116, 2123 (2019). Congress may not delegate “powers which are strictly and exclusive legislative.” Wayman v. Southard, 23 U.S. (10 Wheat.) 1, 42 (1825). Congress may however “obtain the assistance of its coordinate Branches” and “may confer substantial discretion on executive agencies to implement and enforce the laws.” Gundy, 139 S.Ct. at 2123 (citations omitted).

         As the Supreme Court recently made clear, the standards to show a permissible delegation “are not demanding.” Id. at 2129. The Supreme Court has “almost never felt qualified to second-guess Congress regarding the permissible degree of policy judgment that can be left to those executing or applying the law.” Id. (quoting Whitman v. Am. Trucking Ass'ns, 531 U.S. 457, 474-75 (2001)). Indeed, the Supreme Court has “[o]nly twice in this country's history (and that in a single year)” found a delegation excessive and in each case only because “‘Congress had failed to articulate any policy or standard' to confine discretion.” Gundy, 139 S.Ct. at 2129 (emphasis in original) (citations omitted).

         Here, Congress's delegation to the Executive Branch under § 1325(a)(1) is limited: the Executive Branch is responsible for designating “times and places” for aliens to lawfully enter the United States. Congress requires that aliens seeking lawful entrance to the United States do so at a port of entry. See United States v. Corrales-Vasquez, 931 F.3d 944, 946 (9th Cir. 2019); United States v. Aldana, 878 F.3d 877, 882 (9th Cir. 2017). The details of where these ports are located and their operation is left to the executive agency responsible for staffing these facilities. The Court does not find that this delegation falls outside of constitutional bounds.

         Defendant attempts to read a broader delegation into the statute by arguing that any individual immigration official can designate any piece of land as a place of entry. As the Government points out however, the designation of ports of entries are governed by the noticed rule making process of the Administrative Procedures Act. See 6 U.S.C. § 112 (“The issuance of regulations by the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall be governed by the provisions of chapter 5 of title 5 [the Administrative Procedures Act][.]”); see also United States v. Aldana, 878 F.3d 877, 882 (9th Cir. 2017) (finding that a “port of entry” includes a “physical facility that is staffed by immigration officials[.]”); Opening of Boquillas Border Crossing and Update to the Class B Port of Entry Description, 77 FR 76346 (2012) (a final rule, preceded by a notice of proposed rulemaking, that established a Class B port of entry for immigration purposes).

         Defendant's argument that any immigration officer can arbitrarily designate ports of entries therefore does not comport with the actual regulatory scheme. For these reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Information on non-delegation grounds.

         II. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE INFORMATION FOR VAGUENESS

         Defendant separately moves to dismiss the Information on the grounds that § 1325(a)(1) is unconstitutionally vague. ECF No. 29-1 at 9-10. Specifically, Defendant argues § 1325(a)(1) “allows an immigration officer, including a Border Patrol agent, to decide what places and times to designate” as a point of entry and “[a]n immigration officer can decide what to designate for any reason or no reason at ...


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