The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:
Petitioner Damian A. Weir ("Petitioner" or "Weir"), a detainee of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") Office, who is confined at the York County Correctional Facility in York, Pennsylvania, initiated this action by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition") pursuant to the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) In his Petition, filed on October 7, 2009, Weir alleges that his detention has become unreasonable and that he therefore is entitled to either immediate release or a hearing at which the government bears the burden of justifying his continued detention.
Pursuant to this Court's October 22, 2009 Order, on November 12, 2009, Respondent filed a Response to the Petition (Doc. 8), along with Exhibits (Doc. 8-2) and the Declaration (Doc. 8-3) of Kent J. Frederick, Chief Counsel for the Philadelphia Office of ICE. On November 30, 2009, Petitioner filed a document entitled "Petitioner's Supplemental Writ of Habeas Corpus." (Doc. 12.) However, in the introduction, Petitioner states that he is responding to Respondent's opposition to his Petition and he goes on to respond to arguments raised in the Response. Therefore, the document is construed as Petitioner's Reply. Because the Petition is fully briefed, it is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Weir has not demonstrated that his continued detention pending the conclusion of his removal proceedings is unreasonable, and therefore, the Petition will be denied.
A. Weir's Criminal Conviction and Immigration Detention
Weir, a native and citizen of Jamaica, was admitted to the United States on a B-2 "visitor visa" on July 7, 1997. (Doc. 8-2 at 47*fn2, Ex. 4, Additional Charges of Inadmissibility/Deportability.) The B-2 visitors visa authorized Weir to remain in the United States for six (6) months. (Id.) However, Weir remained in the United States after his B-2 visa expired on January 6, 1998. (Id.) He "re-entered" the United States as a lawful permanent resident on September 21, 2005. (Id. at 2, Ex. 1, Notice to Appear and Record of Deportable/Inadmissible Alien.)
On August 4, 2008, Weir was convicted in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas for the offense of Possession Access Device Knowing Counterfeit in violation of 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4106 (2007). (Id. at 7-13, Ex. 2, Criminal Records.) On August 19, 2008, Weir was convicted of the same offense in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas. (Id. at 14-19.) Both convictions stemmed from Weir's use of a counterfeit credit card to fraudulently purchase thousands of dollars worth of products from several different Best Buy stores. (Id. at 7-19.)
On October 2, 2008, following his entry of a guilty plea, Weir was sentenced by the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas to twelve (12) months probation. (Id. at 26-45, Ex. 3, Sentencing Order and Documents.) At the time of his sentencing, ICE had placed a detainer on Weir, and therefore, the Court's sentencing Order directed that he be remanded to the Sheriff for transfer to ICE. (Id. at 26.) On the same date, Weir was served with a Notice to Appear ("NTA") charging him with removability under section 237(a)(2)(A)(i) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i), because he was convicted of two crimes of moral turpitude within five years of his last admission.
(Id. at 5, NTA.) On August 13, 2009, an additional charge was added against Weir based on his unauthorized B-2 visa overstay. (Id. at 47, Ex. 4, Additional Charges of Inadmissibility/Deportability.) Weir has remained in ICE custody since October 2, 2008. (Doc. 8, Response, at 14.)
B. Weir's Removal Proceedings
On October 21, 2008, Weir made his first appearance before an immigration judge. (Doc. 8-3, Frederick Decl., ¶ 6.) Weir requested a continuance of the proceedings in order for his recently-retained attorney, James Howard, to appear. (Id.) The hearing was adjourned to November 25, 2008. (Id.)
On October 22, 2008, counsel for the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") submitted the government's proposed exhibits in support of the allegations and ...