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Antunez Villafuerte v. Warden, Stewart Detention Center

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division

November 27, 2018

Warden, STEWART DETENTION CENTER, et. al, Respondents.

         28 U.S.C. §2241



         Pending before the Court is Respondents' Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief (ECF Nos. 10, 1). For the reasons explained below it is recommended that Respondents' motion be granted and Petitioner's application for relief be dismissed.


         Petitioner is a native and citizen of Honduras. Pet. 5, ECF No. 1; Mot. to Dismiss Ex. 1, at 7, ECF No. 10-1. He first came to the United States as a 10-year-old unaccompanied minor. Pet. 5. On April 20, 2006, he was ordered removed in absentia by an Immigration Judge. Id. at 5-6. He was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") status on October 22, 2013. Mot. to Dismiss Ex. 1, at 8. That status expired in October 2015. Pet. 6. Petitioner was arrested on August 7, 2017, in Raleigh, North Carolina for failure to appear in state court regarding various driving citations. Mot. to Dismiss Ex. 1, at 7. In September 2017, he re-applied for DACA status. Id. at 1. On May 25, 2018, Petitioner's application for DACA was denied by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"). Id. Meanwhile, he was taken into custody by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE') in December 2017. Id.

         The Court received Petitioner's application for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on June 10, 2018 (ECF No. 1). It was labeled "Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus," but alleged four separate causes of action ("COAs"). The first COA was for "habeas corpus" release from detention. Id. 7-9. The second COA was brought under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 553, and alleged that Respondents acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in denying Petitioner's DACA application, violated USCIS's procedures for processing such applications, and failed to follow the new rulemaking requirements of the APA to the extent they changed the requirements for DACA. Pet. 9-10. The third COA alleged that Respondents violated the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment by denying Petitioner's DACA application without adequate process. Id. at 10-11. The fourth COA requested attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"). Id. at 11. Petitioner requested, among other things, declaratory and injunctive relief along with a release from custody. Id. at 3, 12.

         On June 27, 2018, Petitioner was removed from the United States to Honduras. Mot. to Dismiss Ex. 1, at 1. Respondents filed their motion to dismiss on July 10, 2018, contending that Petitioner's removal mooted his petition. Mot. to Dismiss 3, ECF No. 10. Petitioner filed a response opposing the motion on July 13, 2018, and Respondents replied on July 27, 2018 (ECF Nos. 11, 12).


         I. Petitioner's Request for Habeas Relief

         Petitioner's first COA seeks his release from detention under the authority of Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001). Pet. 7-9. His removal from the country rendered this request moot.

         "Article III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to the consideration of 'Cases' and 'Controversies.'" U.S. Const, art. Ill. § 2; Soliman v. United States, 296 F.3d 1237, 1242 (11th Cir. 2002) (per curiam) (finding appeal moot where petitioner was removed from the United States). "The doctrine of mootness derives directly from the case or controversy limitation because 'an action that is moot cannot be characterized as an active case or controversy.'" Soliman, 296 F.3d at 1242 (citation omitted). "[P]ut another way, a cause is moot when it no longer presents a live controversy with respect to which the court can give meaningful relief." Id. (internal quotation and citation omitted). "Therefore, 'if events that occur subsequent to the filing of a lawsuit or an appeal deprive the court of the ability to give the plaintiff or appellant meaningful relief, then the case is moot and must be dismissed.'" Id. (citing Al Najjar v. Ashcroft, 273 F.3d 1330, 1336 (11th Cir. 2001) (per curiam)).

         Removal from the United States pursuant to a final order of removal generally moots an alien's habeas challenge to his continued detention. See, e.g., Soliman, 296 F.3d at 1243-44. "However, dismissal after [removal] is not automatic; a habeas petition continues to present a live controversy after the petitioner's release or deportation when there is some remaining 'collateral consequence' that may be redressed by success on the petition." Martinez v. Sessions, No. 2:18-cv-58-FtM-99CM, 2018 WL 1830845, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 6, 2018) (citing Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7-8 (1998)).

         Despite his removal from the country and release from detention, Petitioner argues his petition is not moot because he has suffered collateral consequences in the form of "concrete legal disadvantages." Pet'r's Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss 2, ECF No. 11. He points to his COAs under the APA and Fifth Amendment as being disadvantaged.[1] Id. Further, he asserts his deportation created a legal disadvantage to obtaining DACA because of the requirement of a continuous presence in the United States for DACA eligibility. Id. at 3.

         The collateral consequences identified by Petitioner, however, stem not from his detention but from the removal order. See Ferry v. Gonzales,457 F.3d 1117, 1132 (10th Cir. 2006) (finding alien's inability to return to the United States to be a consequence of his removal order, not his detention); see also Jackson v. Holder, 893 F.Supp.2d 629, 631 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (denying petitioner's request for declaratory judgment that his continued detention was unauthorized by the INA and/or violated the Fifth Amendment because "any continuing injury to the petitioner stems not from his detention, which has ended, but from the final removal order"). Petitioner did not challenge his removal order in this Court.[2] ...

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