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Our Immigration Law Blog

By The Grotas Firm, PC

Judge Scheindlin writes a watershed decision in favor of detained immigrants:Martinez-Done vs. McConnell

Diomedes Martinez was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nearly ten years after he served his sentence for drug possession in the fourth degree. The federal government argued that Mr. Martinez should be deported and remain in jail without bail for the entire deportation proceeding.
Paul Grotas filed a writ of habeas corpus on based upon the “release argument” and the “when released argument” and the “due process argument”.  The when released argument  concerns whether ICE must take an immigrant into custody when he is released from criminal custody.  ICE says that there is no time limitation on when an immigrant must be taken into custody. Judge Scheindlin  held that an immigrant must be picked up within a reasonable time period of  his release from criminal custody. She looked to the ordinary usage of the word when. For example, if I said when you are finished reading this blog post give me and you called me ten years later that would be strange.
The released argument concerns whether an immigrant is subject to mandatory detention if they have never been released from jail. INA 236(c) requires that there be a release from criminal custody. If an immigrant is convicted of a crime and then is sentenced to probation, has he been released? The mandatory detention statute requires a release according to the plain language of the statute. Judge Scheindlin made the following cogent point:
An alien cannot be “[released from arrest] on parole, supervised release or probation.” To the contrary, release “on parole [or] supervised release” occurs only after a custodial sentence. The principle of consistent meaning demands that “released” be construed that way in the “when released” clause as well.
As a result, Judge Scheindlin held that Mr. Martinez was eligible for a bond and not subject to mandatory detention.
Finally, Judge Scheindlin, held that the length of Mr. Martinez’s detention was unconstitutional. ICE detained Mr. Martinez for six months while they were seeking to deport him. Judge Scheindlin held that this length of detention was unconstitutionally especially in light of the fact that he had not been arrested for the past six years.
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