Brine Cruzeta-Bueno was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and subject to mandatory detention, despite the fact that he was never sentenced to a period of incarceration for his conviction. The federal government argued that Mr. Bueno should be deported, and remain in jail without bail for the entirety of the deportation proceeding. ICE’s argument is illogical because Mr. Bueno entered the United States in 1997, and has numerous ties to the community which prove that he is not a danger to the community or flight risk.
Paul Grotas filed a writ of habeas corpus based upon the “release argument.” The release argument concerns whether an immigrant is subject to mandatory detention if they have never been released from jail. 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 Engelmayer granted Mr. Bueno’s case and relied on his previous decision in Straker. Straker considered the question of whether an alien’s release of an arrest is sufficient to subject him to mandatory detention. Judge Engelmayer underwent a thorough analysis of the mandatory detention statute.
Here are some of Judge Engelmayer’s best points
- A construction of “released” under which a mere arrest for a qualifying offense under § 1226(c)(1)(B) triggers DHS’s mandatory duty to detain an alien would create other discord with the statutory framework. Upon such an arrest, DHS would be obliged to place the alien in immigration detention, despite the ongoing criminal proceedings. And, under § 1226(c)(2), DHS would ordinarily not be at liberty to release him to state or federal criminal authorities in order to serve his criminal sentence.
- To be sure, the BIA has twice rendered a contrary interpretation, to the effect that release from a pre-conviction arrest constituted a statutory “release.” See Matter of West, 22 I. & N Dec. 1405, 1410 (BIA 2000); Matter of Kotliar, 24 I. & N. Dec. 124, 125 (BIA 2007). To the extent these rulings extended to pre-conviction releases—as opposed to the post-conviction release of a defendant who had been held by criminal authorities since arrest—these interpretations are unreasonable, for the reasons stated above. See Chevron, 467 U.S. at 844 (requiring deference only to an agency’s “reasonable interpretation”); Valdez v. Terry, 874 F. Supp. 2d 1262, 1273 (D.N.M. 2012) (“The Court finds that, to the extent Matter of Kotliar holds that an alien is subject to mandatory detention under § 1226(c) based on release from custody from an arrest preceding a conviction, this holding is contrary to the plain language of§ 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii) that an alien is not deportable until he or she is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude.”).The BIA’s decisions are particularly unworthy of deference, in that West contained little reasoning in support of its conclusion on this point, and Kotliar none. See G & T Terminal Packaging Co., Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., 468 F.3d 86, 98 (2d Cir. 2006) (declining to “reach the question whether the Secretary’s cursory treatment of the term ‘reasonable cause’ is still entitled to Chevron deference”).9
Mr. Bueno is home with his family today.
This decision can help any immigrant who is subject to mandatory detention and was not sentenced to a period of incarceration. You can learn more about immigration law in Paul’s book. See more.