884 F.3d 1266 (10th Cir. 2018), 16-2263, Gonzalez-Alarcon v. Macias

Docket Nº:16-2263
Citation:884 F.3d 1266
Opinion Judge:LUCERO, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Abraham Alejandro GONZALEZ-ALARCON, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Adrian P. MACIAS, El Paso Field Office Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Ronald Warren, Assistant Field Officer Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Respondents-Appellees.
Attorney:Olsi Vrapi, Noble & Vrapi, P.A., Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Petitioner-Appellant. Edward Han, Assistant United States Attorney (James D. Tierney, Acting United States Attorney, and Marisa A. Ong, Assistant United States Attorney, Las Cruces, New Mexico, with him on the briefs), Office of the Un...
Judge Panel:Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, EBEL and LUCERO, Circuit Judges. TYMKOVICH, C.J., concurring. LUCERO, J., concurring.
Case Date:March 19, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
SUMMARY

Abraham Gonzalez-Alarcon filed a habeas petition alleging specific facts which, if proven, would have demonstrated he was a United States citizen. He sought release from custody from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) following ICE’s reinstatement of a prior order of removal on that basis. Dismissing Gonzalez-Alarcon’s petition, the district court concluded that he was required to exhaust administrative remedies, jurisdiction was... (see full summary)

 
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Page 1266

884 F.3d 1266 (10th Cir. 2018)

Abraham Alejandro GONZALEZ-ALARCON, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Adrian P. MACIAS, El Paso Field Office Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Ronald Warren, Assistant Field Officer Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 16-2263

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

March 19, 2018

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, (D.C. No. 1:15-CV-00910-MV-LF).

Olsi Vrapi, Noble & Vrapi, P.A., Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Edward Han, Assistant United States Attorney (James D. Tierney, Acting United States Attorney, and Marisa A. Ong, Assistant United States Attorney, Las Cruces, New Mexico, with him on the briefs), Office of the United States Attorney, Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Respondents-Appellees.

Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, EBEL and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

LUCERO, Circuit Judge.

Abraham Gonzalez-Alarcon filed a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 alleging specific facts which, if proven, would demonstrate that he is a United States citizen. He seeks release from custody from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (" ICE" ) following ICE’s reinstatement of a prior order of removal on that basis. Dismissing Gonzalez-Alarcon’s petition, the district court concluded that he was required to exhaust administrative remedies, jurisdiction was barred by the REAL ID Act, and the petition for review process is an adequate substitute for habeas such that the REAL ID Act’s jurisdiction-stripping provisions do not offend the Suspension Clause.

We conclude that the exhaustion provision at issue, 8 U.S.C. § 1252(d), does not govern facially valid citizenship claims. That subsection applies only to aliens. And because district courts have jurisdiction to determine their own jurisdiction, a court must first consider whether a petitioner is in fact an alien before requiring exhaustion. If a petitioner is a citizen, the provision does not apply.

We further hold that the REAL ID Act’s jurisdiction-stripping provisions raise serious Suspension Clause concerns in one limited context. With respect to a United States citizen subject to a reinstated order of removal for whom the deadline to seek judicial review has passed, the REAL ID Act appears to bar federal court review. These restrictions would effectively strip citizenship from those who do not clear various procedural hurdles. Citizenship cannot be relinquished through mere neglect. Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253, 268, 87 S.Ct. 1660, 18 L.Ed.2d 757 (1967). And " [t]he very nature of the writ demands that it be administered with the initiative and flexibility essential to insure that miscarriages of justice within its reach are surfaced and corrected." Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 291, 89 S.Ct. 1082, 22 L.Ed.2d 281 (1969). Under the Suspension

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Clause, Gonzalez-Alarcon must be granted some path to advance his facially valid claim of citizenship in federal court.

Before permitting Gonzalez-Alarcon to proceed under the Great Writ, however, we conclude he should first attempt to obtain review of his citizenship claim through the REAL ID Act. In a similar case, the Ninth Circuit held that a habeas petitioner should file a motion to reopen his immigration proceedings— even though such a motion would be procedurally improper— and file a petition for review of any denial challenging the " jurisdictional issue" of citizenship. Iasu v. Smith, 511 F.3d 881, 893 (9th Cir. 2007). In Gonzalez-Alarcon’s case, such a petition would be filed in the Fifth Circuit, where his original removal proceedings occurred. See § 1252(b)(2). We ordered supplemental briefing as to whether Gonzalez-Alarcon could obtain judicial review of his citizenship claim by following the procedure suggested in Iasu . The government represents to us that Gonzalez-Alarcon " could appeal the denial of such a motion to reopen to the Fifth Circuit in a petition for review." In light of this position, we conclude that the appropriate course of action is to stay our hand until Gonzalez-Alarcon has attempted to obtain judicial review within the confines of the REAL ID Act. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we vacate the district court’s decision and remand with instructions to dismiss without prejudice.

I

Gonzalez-Alarcon was born in Mexico in 1993. He entered the United States in 2005 and was ordered removed in September 2012. After Gonzalez-Alarcon reentered the United States, his order of removal was reinstated in September 2013. He was removed, and on being found in the United States yet again, was taken into federal custody and charged with illegal reentry. On April 26, 2015, his order of removal was reinstated.

At some point, Gonzalez-Alarcon learned that he could claim rights based on United States citizenship. A child born abroad to an unwed, citizen mother is a citizen if the mother lived in the United States for at least one year prior to the child’s birth. 8 U.S.C. § 1409(c).1 An affidavit submitted by Gonzalez-Alarcon’s mother, Dalia Alarcon, states that she was born in San Miguel, New Mexico, in 1973 at the hands of a local midwife. Her parents have always told her that she was born in the United States. However, she tells us that her parents did not get a United States birth certificate and left the United States shortly after her birth. Her parents divorced in 1979 or 1980 and her father returned to the United States. She lived with him in Albuquerque for approximately three years in the 1980s.

Gonzalez-Alarcon’s great aunt, Beatriz Alarcon-Garcia, also submitted an affidavit. She states that her brother and his wife came to live with her in San Miguel, New Mexico in 1972. The couple lived in a garage near Alarcon-Garcia’s house, and joined the rest of the family for meals. Gonzalez-Alarcon’s grandmother was pregnant at the time with Gonzalez-Alarcon’s mother, and had regular visits with the local midwife. When she went into labor, Gonzalez-Alarcon’s grandmother went to the midwife’s home and returned with Dalia— Gonzalez-Alarcon’s mother. She also avers that Dalia later returned to New Mexico and attended school in Albuquerque for several years.

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After counsel submitted these affidavits, the government dismissed the criminal charges against Gonzalez-Alarcon. He then moved for a stay of removal based on his alleged United States citizenship. On October 9, 2015, while in ICE custody, Gonzalez-Alarcon filed a § 2241 petition in the district court. He sought release from custody based on citizenship. A few days after the complaint was filed, Gonzalez-Alarcon was released from detention subject to certain conditions. He is barred from travelling outside the ICE Oklahoma City sub-office boundaries without prior approval, and must periodically report to immigration officers.

The government moved to dismiss the habeas petition based on mootness. However, the district court denied the motion, concluding that the restrictions on Gonzalez-Alarcon constituted custody for habeas purposes. But it held that the petition was subject to dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and for lack of jurisdiction. Gonzalez-Alarcon timely appealed.

II

The district court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction under the REAL ID Act and that the same statute required Gonzalez-Alarcon to exhaust administrative remedies. We consider that statute’s scope and structure.

In general, removal orders are entered under 8 U.S.C. § 1229a, which provides for proceedings before an Immigration Judge. Orders issued under that section may be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (" BIA" ). 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(b). They are subject to motions to reconsider and motions to reopen. 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(6), (7); 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(b), (c). Motions to reconsider are subject to a twenty-day deadline, and motions to reopen are subject to a ninety-day deadline. 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(6), (7). These deadlines are subject to equitable tolling. See

Galvez Piñeda v. Gonzales, 427 F.3d 833, 838 (10th Cir. 2005). The BIA may also reopen or reconsider a decision sua sponte. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(a).

There are several other types of removal orders. Certain aliens are subject to expedited removal procedures. See 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b) (aliens determined inadmissible when arriving in the United States); § 1228(b) (aliens convicted of an aggravated felony). Gonzalez-Alarcon was ordered removed under § 1231(a)(5), which allows for reinstatement of prior removal orders. In such proceedings, the " prior order of removal is reinstated from its original date and is not subject to being reopened or reviewed." Id. An order of removal may be reinstated by an immigration officer upon three findings: (1)...

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