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Castellanos-Luna v. Pompeo

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

July 11, 2019

MIKE POMPEO, Secretary of the United States and Department of Homeland Security, et al., Respondents.




         This matter comes before the Court for consideration of a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) filed by the Honorable Brian A. Tsuchida, United States Magistrate Judge. Dkt. #10. Petitioner Nain Castellanos-Luna, proceeding through counsel, seeks release from immigration detention pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Judge Tsuchida recommends that both Mr. Castellanos-Luna's habeas petition, Dkt. #1, and the Government's motion to dismiss, Dkt. #4, be granted in part and denied in part, finding that Mr. Castellanos-Luna is not entitled to immediate release but should be afforded a new bond hearing.

         The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's habeas petition, the Government's motion to dismiss, the R&R filed by Judge Tsuchida, the Government's Objections thereto, and the remaining record. The Court approves and adopts the R&R but writes to address the arguments raised in the Government's Objections regarding Mr. Castellanos-Luna's right to a new bond hearing. See Dkt. #11.


         The Court adopts and incorporates by reference the factual background from the R&R regarding Mr. Castellanos-Luna's immigration history and current immigration proceedings. See Dkt. #10 at 2-3. Mr. Castellanos-Luna has remained at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington since his arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on February 14, 2018. Dkt. #6 at ¶6. Mr. Castellanos-Luna's removal is temporarily stayed because his withholding of removal case is pending before the Ninth Circuit. Id. at ¶15. On August 21, 2018, Immigration Judge Tammy L. Fitting (“the IJ”) denied Mr. Castellanos-Luna's request for release on bond on the basis that he poses a flight risk. Dkt. #1 at 3. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“the Board”) affirmed the IJ's decision. Id. at 4. On March 6, 2019, Mr. Castellanos-Luna filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, requesting immediate release from detention on the basis that his continued detention violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and due process rights. Id. at 19-23. Alternatively, he requests conditional release on bond and/or appropriate conditions on the basis that the IJ and the Board abused their discretion in denying his bond request. Id. at 23-31.

         On June 4, 2019, Judge Tsuchida issued an R&R concluding that Mr. Castellanos-Luna is not entitled to immediate release. Dkt. #10 at 4-5. However, the R&R recommends granting Mr. Castellanos-Luna's alternative request that he be conditionally released on bond and/or appropriate conditions unless the Government provides him with a constitutionally sufficient bond hearing within 30 days of this Order on the R&R. On June 19, 2019, the Government objected to the R&R's recommendation of a new bond hearing. Dkt. #11 at 1.


         The R&R concluded that Mr. Castellanos-Luna is entitled to a new bond hearing on the basis that clear and convincing evidence did not support the IJ's denial of bond. Dkt. #10 at 6-11. The Government's Objections incorporate the arguments in their Motion to Dismiss, see Dkts. #4, #9, and argue that the R&R (1) improperly re-weighed the evidence and exceeded the scope of judicial review over bond decisions; and (2) did not properly defer to the Immigration Judge's expertise. Dkt. #11 at 2-3. The Court finds that the R&R applied the appropriate standard of review to the IJ's denial of bond and agrees with the R&R's conclusion that there is insufficient evidence under the clear and convincing evidence standard to support the IJ's bond decision.

         A. Standard of Review for Bond Decisions

         The Ninth Circuit has established that “an individual facing prolonged immigration detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(6) is entitled to release on bond unless the government establishes that he is a flight risk or a danger to the community.” Diouf v. Napolitano (“Diouf II”), 634 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2011). Specifically, a noncitizen denied release in his six-month custody review and whose release or removal is not imminent is entitled to a bond hearing before an IJ. Id. at 1091-92. Under Diouf II, noncitizens subject to reinstated removal orders who have applied for withholding of removal are entitled to automatic bond hearings every six months. Martinez-Baños v. Asher, No. 16-1454, 2018 WL 1617706, at *1-*2 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 4, 2018), adopting R & R, 2018 WL 3244988 (Jan. 23, 2018). These bond hearings must comply with the procedural safeguards established in Singh v. Holder, 638 F.3d 1196 (9th Cir. 2011), which requires that the government justify continued detention by clear and convincing evidence that the noncitizen is either dangerous or a flight risk. Martinez- Baños, 2018 WL 3244988, at *5 (R & R). To determine if continued detention is warranted, an IJ may consider a number of factors provided in In re Guerra: (1) whether he has a fixed address in the United States; (2) length of residence in the United States; (3) family ties in the United States, and whether they may entitle him to reside permanently in the United States in the future; (4) employment history; (5) record of appearance in court; (6) criminal record; (7) history of immigration violations; (8) attempts to flee prosecution or otherwise escape from authorities; and (9) manner of entry to the United States. 24 I & N Dec. 37, 40 (BIA 2006). See also Singh, 638 F.3d at 1206.

         The R&R correctly notes that the Ninth Circuit “has not provided guidance ‘on precisely what standard of review a district court should apply in reviewing an IJ's application of the clear and convincing evidence standard of proof.'” Dkt. #10 at 9 (quoting Ramos v. Sessions (“Ramos II”), 293 F.Supp.3d 1021, 1030 (N.D. Cal. 2018), appeal docketed, No. 18-15884 (9th Cir.) (quotation and citation omitted)). The R&R relies on the analysis in Ramos II, wherein the court extensively analyzed the appropriate standard of review. See Id. Ramos II concluded that a court must review an IJ's factual findings for clear error, and independently review the facts, findings, and record to determine, de novo, whether those facts “clearly and convincingly” demonstrate that the petitioner poses a flight risk, including whether “no alternative to detention could protect the community [or prevent flight].” Dkt. #10 at 9 (quoting Ramos II, 293 F.Supp.3d at 1032-33).

         B. The Government's Objections

         The Government objects to the R&R on the basis that the court improperly re-weighed the discretionary Guerra factors rather than limiting its review to whether the IJ applied the proper legal standard to Petitioner's bond hearings. Dkt. #11 at 2. In doing so, the Government argues, the court substituted its judgment in place of the IJ's discretion over bond by weighing certain factors, such as Mr. Castellanos-Luna's strong family and community ties in the Seattle area, more heavily than the factors considered by the Government such as his multiple unlawful reentries and final orders of removal. ...

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