238 F.3d 704 (6th Cir. 2001), 99-5683, Rosales-Garcia v Holland

Docket Nº:99-5683
Citation:238 F.3d 704
Party Name:Mario Rosales-Garcia, Petitioner-Appellant, v. J.T. Holland, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:January 31, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 704

238 F.3d 704 (6th Cir. 2001)

Mario Rosales-Garcia, Petitioner-Appellant,


J.T. Holland, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 99-5683

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

January 31, 2001

Submitted: August 4, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at Lexington. No. 98-00286, Karl S. Forester, District Judge.

Page 705

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 706

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 707

Mario Rosales-Garcia, Lexington, Kentucky, pro se.


Before: MOORE and CLAY, Circuit Judges; RICE, District Judge[*]

MOORE, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which CLAY, J., joined. RICE, D. J. (pp. 727-39), delivered a separate dissenting opinion.



This case presents the difficult and complex question whether an excludable alien has a liberty interest recognized by the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause when the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") seeks to detain him in custody, perhaps indefinitely, without charging him with a crime or affording him a trial but simply on the ground that it cannot effect his deportation. On July 9, 1998, Petitioner-Appellant Mario Rosales-Garcia ("Rosales") applied for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. He sought relief from the Attorney General's decision on March 24, 1997 denying him parole from his detention at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, or in the alternative, an emergency hearing before the Cuban Review Panel and the INS. Rosales is a Cuban citizen who arrived in this country during the Mariel boatlift in 1980. Because he has been declared excludable by the INS he would ordinarily be deported to his home country; however, the United States is unable to effect his deportation because Cuba refuses to accept his return. Thus, Rosales, after completing a federal prison sentence, has been taken into INS custody pending an agency determination that he is eligible for parole or that Cuba will allow him to enter. Rosales, appearing pro se, asserts that both his substantive and procedural due process rights under the Constitution are being violated by the Attorney General and the INS. The district court dismissed his petition with prejudice, and Rosales promptly appealed to this court. We REVERSEthe district court's judgment, order Rosales's release, and REMAND to the district court for proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

I. Background

A. Facts and Procedure

Rosales left Cuba, his birthplace, and arrived in this country around May 6, 1980 as part of the Mariel boatlift, so known because over 120,000 undocumented Cubans departed from the Mariel Harbor en route to the United States. Although Rosales was initially detained by immigration authorities, he was released into the custody of his aunt on May 20, 1980, pursuant to the Attorney General's authority to parole illegal aliens for humanitarian or other reasons under 8 U.S.C. §1182(d)(5)(A) (1994)1. J.A. at 97-110 (Request for Asylum, Passport). Rosales was subsequently arrested multiple times2 and was convicted

Page 708

of several of the offenses including: possession of marijuana and resisting arrest in October 1981, J.A. at 146-47; grand theft in September 1981, for which he received two years' probation in March 1983, J.A. at 174; burglary and grand larceny in October 1983, for which he received two six-month sentences to be served concurrently, J.A. at 152-53, 175; and escape from a penal institution in February 1984, J.A. at 177, where he had been serving time for his previous convictions. On January 9, 1986, Rosales received a sentence of 366 days for the escape charge after he pleaded guilty. J.A. at 155, 181.

Rosales's immigration parole was revoked on July 10, 1986 by the INS, pursuant to its authority under 8 U.S.C. §1185(d)(5)(A) and 8 C.F.R. §212.5(d)(2), for the escape and grand larceny charges. J.A. at 111-13. In a separate proceeding before an immigration judge in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 26, 1987, Rosales was denied asylum and deemed excludable3 from this country because he lacked a visa or other documentation entitling him to admission and because he had been convicted of state crimes in Florida. J.A. at 115. Rosales remained in immigration custody until he was considered for immigration parole a second time on April 5, 1988. J.A. at 120. He was released on May 20, 1988 to the custody of his uncle in Miami. J.A. at 122-25. Rosales was not deported at that time, however, because Cuba refused to take him back.

On March 18, 1993, Rosales pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; he was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release. J.A. at 159-61. While Rosales was serving his sentence, the INS lodged a detainer against him, directing prison officials to release him to INS custody for deportation proceedings at the completion of his sentence. J.A. at 126-27. On March 24, 1997, prior to his release, Rosales's immigration parole was again revoked pursuant to the regulations governing parole of Mariel Cubans at 8 C.F.R. §212.12 (the "Cuban Review Plan")4

Page 709

See8C.F.R. §212.12(a). When Rosales was released from prison on May 18, 1997, the INS promptly detained him and took him into custody, pursuant to its authority under 8U.S.C. §1226(e) (1994)5 On November 5, 1997, the Associate Commissioner for Enforcement for the INS reconsidered and then denied Rosales immigration parole. J.A. at 133. The INS rendered its decision on December 12, 1997 and served it on Rosales on February 11, 1998. According to its report, the Cuban Review Panel determined that Rosales had demonstrated "a propensity to engage in recidivist criminal behavior" as reflected by his criminal record and that his responses to questions at his parole interview were "non-credible." J.A. at 133. The Panel stated that "it is not clearly evident" that releasing Rosales on parole was in the public interest; that he would not pose a threat to the community; or that he would not violate the conditions of immigration parole6. J.A. at 133. Rosales has remained in custody since that determination, where he continues to receive periodic consideration for parole under the Cuban Review Plan7. See 8 C.F.R. §212.12(g)(2).

Rosales filed his habeas petition with the district court on July 9, 1998. J.A. at 5. In his petition, Rosales asserted that his due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated because he was denied his right to be represented by counsel at the Cuban Review Panel hearing on his parole status; to review the information used against him at that proceeding; and the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses. Rosales also alleged that the Cuban Review Panel improperly assessed his prior convictions when it calculated his "score" in its assessment of his candidacy for parole, in violation of the regulations governing the Review Panel, at 8 C.F.R. §§212.12-13. Finally, Rosales asserted that the decision by the INS was an abuse of discretion, arbitrary and capricious, and that it violated Supreme Court precedent. Rosales sought immediate release on parole, or in the alternative, an emergency hearing at which he would be afforded procedural due process rights.

On October 1, 1998, the district court dismissed the habeas petition sua sponte, concluding that "the petitioner is not being held in violation of the U.S. Constitution or any U.S. law, rule or regulation; thus, the petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief." J.A. at 66, 70. Rosales then filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment on October 21, 1998, stating that he meant to assert his due process rights, not under the Constitution, but under 8 U.S.C. §§1101,

Page 710

1105(a) and 5U.S.C. §§551-701 as well as Supreme Court precedents. J.A. at 13. The district court, construing pro se petitions leniently, vacated its earlier decision to dismiss and granted Rosales's motion for reconsideration on December 1, 1998, allowing the case to proceed. J.A. at 71-73.

The government filed a response to Rosales's petition on February 4, 1999, arguing that this case is identical to those that have been rejected by other circuits, including the Sixth Circuit in an unpublished opinion, Gonzalez v. Luttrell, No. 96-5098, 1996 WL 627717 (6th Cir. Oct. 29, 1996). The government noted that Rosales had received all the procedure due under the Cuban Review Plan and that his parole had been appropriately denied by the Attorney General. Rosales responded to the government by again asserting his right to be free from indefinite detention and to be afforded procedural due process rights at his parole hearings. J.A. at 58-65. Rosales also sought the appointment of counsel through a motion to the district court, but that request was denied on February 23, 1999. J.A. at 75.

The district court dismissed Rosales's amended petition with prejudice on May 3, 1999. The district court, addressing Rosales's statutory claims first, concluded that Congress had granted total discretionary authority to the Attorney General over immigration matters at 8 U.S.C. §§1103(a)(1) 8 and 1182(d)(5)(A). After surveying the recent amendments to the immigration laws and noting Congress's intent to provide the Attorney General with more discretion to detain aliens, the district court concluded that "the Attorney General may continue to detain the instant petitioner in conformity...

To continue reading