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Walker v. Lowe

May 26, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure


Petitioner Andrew Walker ("Petitioner" or "Walker"), a detainee of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") Office, who is confined at the Pike County Correctional Facility in Lords Valley, Pennsylvania, initiated this action by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus ("petition") pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Rec. Doc. No. 1.) Walker challenges his continued detention by ICE under Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001) pending his removal from the United States to Jamaica, and seeks his immediate release from custody under any conditions this Court deems appropriate.

In accordance with this Court's March 23, 2010 Order (Rec. Doc. No. 3), Respondent filed a response to the petition (Rec. Doc. No. 6) and supporting documents (Rec. Doc. Nos. 6-2, 6-3) on April 13, 2010. Although Walker was invited to file a reply brief within fourteen (14) days from the date of the filing of the response (see Rec. Doc. No. 3 at 2 ¶ 5), no reply brief has been filed. Accordingly, the petition is ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be denied.

I. Factual Background

Walker claims in his petition that he is a citizen and native of Jamaica who entered the United States in 2000 through Miami International Airport and flew to New York City the next day, having been permitted to enter the United States through LaGuardia Airport with a B-1 visitor visa. (Rec. Doc. No. 1 at 2*fn1.) Although it is clear that Walker is a native of Jamaica (see Rec. Doc. No. 6-2 at 3, Notice to Appear), immigration officials were unable to confirm Walker's legal admission into the United States or the issuance of a visa to him (see id. at 7, Record of Deportable/Inadmissible Alien.)

Walker first was encountered by an agent of the ICE Detention and Removal Office on September 11, 2007 at the Westchester County Jail in New York State. (See id.) At that time, Walker was booked on charges of criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of marijuana, and criminal sale of marijuana. (See id.) As revealed by a statement given by Walker contained in his criminal records, he conspired to provide his residence where his children and his children's mother resided for the unlawful sale of marijuana. (See Rec. Doc. No. 6-3 at 1-4, Records of Criminal Conviction.) According to Walker's statement, the prospective purchasers arrived while his children and his children's mother were at the residence. (See id.) The prospective purchasers drew firearms and robbed Walker and his coconspirator. (See id.) Walker was provided a firearm and chased after the individuals that robbed him. (See id.) He returned to his residence, but then left out of a window. (See id.) He sustained a foot injury while attempting to use a ladder to climb down the side of his apartment building and was then captured by police. (See id.)

On April 17, 2008, Walker entered a guilty plea to attempted criminal possession of a loaded firearm. (See Doc. 6-2 at 16, Records of Criminal Conviction.) He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two (2) years followed by an eighteen (18) month term of supervised release. (See id.)

Walker previously was convicted on March 7, 2006 in Orange County, New York of unlawful possession of marijuana. (See id. at 16-17.)

On September 12, 2007, ICE issued a Notice to Appear charging Walker with removability under Section 212(a)(6)(A)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") on the basis that he is an alien present in the United States without having been admitted, and under Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the INA on the basis that he is an alien convicted of violating a law relating to a controlled substance. (See id. at 5, Notice to Appear.) Walker was served with the Notice to Appear on August 5, 2008. (See id. at 4.)

On July 13, 2009, an Immigration Judge issued an order granting Walker's application for voluntary departure until August 12, 2009. (See id. at 9, 7/13/09 Order of the Immigration Judge.) Walker subsequently was granted an extension of his voluntary departure until September 11, 2009. (See id. at 10, EARM Case Actions & Decisions Log; at 11, 3/15/10 Decision to Continue Detention.) Because Walker failed to depart the United States by September 11, 2009, his voluntary departure was converted to an administratively final order of removal effective September 12, 2009. (See Rec. Doc. No. 6-2 at 10; Rec. Doc. No. 6-2 at 11; Rec. Doc. No. 6-2 at 12, HQ POCR Checklist for 241.4 Reviews.)

Since September 5, 2009, immigration officials have contacted the Jamaican Consulate on five (5) occasions in an effort to obtain a travel document for Walker. (See Rec. Doc. No. 6-2 at 12.) ICE was informed that a travel document will be provided when a valid birth certificate is produced. (See id.) Walker's family submitted a birth certificate to the Jamaican Consulate in New York that was deemed to be fraudulent. (See id.) Immigration officials submitted a request to the ICE Attaché in Kingston, Jamaica to obtain a birth certificate. (See id.) As of the date of the filing of the response to the petition on April 13, 2010, a valid birth certificate had not yet been produced. (See Rec. Doc. No. 6 at 5.)

On March 10, 2010, six (6) months after the Immigration Court's Order granting Walker voluntary departure became an administratively final order of removal, Walker's case was transferred to ICE's Headquarters Custody Management Unit ("HQMCU").*fn2 (See Rec. Doc. No. 6-2 at 12.) On March 15, 2010, Kenneth C. Smith, Acting Chief of HQCMU, issued a Decision to Continue Detention. (See id. at 11, Decision to Continue Detention.) The Decision contains the following explanation:

You are a native and citizen of Jamaica, who entered the United States at an unknown place on an unknown date without being inspected or admitted by an Immigration Officer. You were convicted of the following offenses: Criminal possession of Marijuana on March 7, 2006 and Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon (firearm) on April 17, 2008. You were then placed in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge (IJ). You were granted a Voluntary Departure, (VD) by the IJ on July 13, 2009 until August 12, 2009. You were then granted an extension to your VD until September 11, 2009. You failed to depart the United States by September 11, 2009. Your VD was subsequently converted to a final order of removal.

A request for a travel document was submitted to the Embassy of Jamaica and ICE is currently working with the government of Jamaica in securing a travel document for your removal from the United States. There is no reason to believe at this time that your removal will not take place within the reasonably foreseeable future. (See id.) The Decision informs Walker that he is permitted to bring forth evidence in the future to demonstrate why his removal is unlikely. (See id.) Further, the decision ...

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