Massieu v. Reno

Decision Date26 September 1996
Docket NumberNo. 96-5125,96-5125
Citation91 F.3d 416
PartiesMario Ruiz MASSIEU v. Janet RENO, In Her Capacity as Attorney General of the United States of America; Warren Christopher, In His Capacity as Secretary of State of the United States; United States Immigration and Naturalization Service; Warren A. Lewis, In His Capacity as District Director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Demetrius Georgakopoulos, In His Capacity as Assistant District Director, Investigations, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

Frank W. Hunger, Assistant Attorney General, Gary G. Grindler, Atlanta, GA, Stephen W. Preston, Deputy Assistant Attorneys General, Douglas N. Letter, Jacob M. Lewis (argued), David J. Kline, Attorneys, Civil Division, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Appellants.

Cathy Fleming (argued), Camille M. Kenny, Fleming, Roth & Fettweis, Newark, New Jersey, for Appellee.

Before: GREENBERG, ALITO, and McKEE, Circuit Judges.


ALITO, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from an order of the district court declaring unconstitutional § 241(a)(4)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the "INA" or the "Act"), 8 U.S.C. § 1251(a)(4)(C)(i), and enjoining further deportation proceedings against plaintiff under that provision. Entertaining jurisdiction over plaintiff's constitutional claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the district court held that § 241(a)(4)(C)(i) violates the Due Process Clause because it is impermissibly vague and deprives aliens such as plaintiff of a meaningful opportunity to be heard. In addition, the court held that § 241(a)(4)(C)(i) represents an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.

We do not reach the merits of the constitutional questions decided by the district court. Instead, we hold that the district lacked jurisdiction to entertain plaintiff's claims. Under § 106 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1105a, if plaintiff wished to challenge the efforts to deport him, he was required to exhaust available administrative remedies and then petition for review in this court. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's order, and we remand to the district court with an instruction to dismiss plaintiff's complaint.


A. The relevant allegations of plaintiff's complaint, which were set forth in detail by the district court, see Massieu v. Reno, 915 F.Supp. 681 (D.N.J.1996), may be summarized as follows. Plaintiff Mario Ruiz Massieu ("plaintiff" or "Ruiz Massieu") is a citizen of Mexico who has spent most of his adult life working as an academic or government official. From 1990 until 1993, he was Mexico's Ambassador to Denmark; for part of 1993, he served as the Deputy Attorney General; in 1994, he was the Undersecretary for the Department of Government; and from May until November of 1994, he again held the position of Deputy Attorney General.

Plaintiff's brother, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, was the Secretary General of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party. In September 1994, plaintiff's brother was assassinated in Mexico City. Plaintiff, as the Deputy Attorney General, requested permission from President Salinas and President-elect Zedillo to allow his office to lead the investigation into his brother's death.

Plaintiff led the investigation for approximately two months before resigning both his position as Deputy Attorney General and his membership in the Institutional Revolutionary Party. In a November 1994 speech, plaintiff announced his resignations and attributed them to efforts by the party to block the investigation into his brother's death. The speech and other criticisms of the government were published in February 1995 in plaintiff's book, I Accuse: Denunciation of a Political Crime.

On March 2, 1995, Mexican authorities interrogated plaintiff concerning criminal activities allegedly committed while he was in office. Later that day, plaintiff and his family entered the United States in Houston, Texas. Plaintiff was granted a six-month non-immigrant visitor visa. He and his family stayed overnight at plaintiff's Houston home, which he has owned since October 1994. The next day, plaintiff travelled to Newark en route to Spain. He was arrested in Newark by United States Customs officials and charged with failing to report all currency in his possession in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5316. Specifically, plaintiff was charged with failing to report about $26,000 of the roughly $44,000 in cash that he was Over the next nine months, the United States government brought four extradition proceedings seeking plaintiff's extradition to Mexico. These were filed in March, June, August, and October 1995, and they sought extradition on charges of obstruction of justice and embezzlement. However, two United States Magistrate Judges, sitting as extradition judges under 18 U.S.C. § 3184 and Rule 40.B.12 of the General Rules for the District of New Jersey, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause to believe that plaintiff had committed the crimes for which his extradition was sought. The extradition complaints were therefore dismissed.

                carrying with him. 1  A few days later, the Mexican government charged plaintiff with several violations of Mexican criminal law

The final extradition complaint was dismissed on December 22, 1995. On the same day, the government instituted a deportation proceeding against plaintiff through the service of an order to show cause and notice of hearing. 2 The government alleged that plaintiff was subject to deportation under 8 U.S.C. § 1251(a)(4)(C)(i), which provides that "[a]n alien whose presence or activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is deportable." On December 27, 1995, plaintiff moved for bail pending completion of the deportation proceeding. After briefing, the immigration judge denied bail on January 11, 1996. The first stage of the deportation proceeding was scheduled to begin on January 19, 1996.

B. On January 17, 1996, however, plaintiff sought to enjoin the deportation proceeding by filing a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Named as defendants were Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States; Warren Christopher, Secretary of State of the United States; the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service ("the Service"); Warren A. Lewis, District Director of the Service; and Demetrius Georgakopoulos, Assistant District Director of the Service. Plaintiff's complaint sought to enjoin the deportation proceeding on three grounds: (1) "illegal de facto extradition," App. 19-22; (2) "selective enforcement," App. 22-24; and (3) the "unconstitutionality of 8 U.S.C. § 1251(a)(4)(C)," App. 24-25. On January 19, 1996, and January 24, 1996, the district court granted plaintiff's applications for temporary restraints and a preliminary injunction, essentially staying the deportation proceeding pending consideration of plaintiff's request for a permanent injunction.

On February 28, 1996, the district court issued an order declaring § 241(a)(4)(C)(i) unconstitutional on three separate grounds. 3 First, the court held that the provision is void for vagueness because it does not provide adequate notice to aliens of the standards with which they must conform and does not furnish adequate guidelines for law enforcement. Second, the court held that § 241(a)(4)(C)(i) violates procedural due process; the court reasoned that the provision deprives an alien of a meaningful opportunity to be heard since the Secretary of State's determination that he falls within the statutory standard is allegedly unreviewable. Finally, the court held that § 241(a)(4)(C)(i) represents an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power because it lacks "sufficiently intelligible standards to direct the Secretary's exercise of discretion and to enable the court to review the exercise thereof." 915 F.Supp. at 707. The court thus entered an order declaring the provision unconstitutional Defendants appealed to this court and requested a stay pending appeal. On March 1, 1996, we granted defendants' motion for a temporary stay, and on March 5, 1996, we granted plaintiff bail with conditions pending appeal. We then granted expedited review, and we now reverse.

and enjoining deportation proceedings against plaintiff based on that provision. The court also ordered that plaintiff be discharged from custody, but the court stayed its order until March 1, 1996.


The defendants in this case contend that the district court lacked jurisdiction to entertain plaintiff's constitutional claims. According to the defendants, if the plaintiff wished to contest his deportation, he was required to exhaust the administrative remedies available under the INA and then petition for review in this court.

A. 1. In assessing this argument, our controlling concern is congressional intent. See, e.g., Patsy v. Florida Bd. of Regents, 457 U.S. 496, 501-02 & n. 4, 102 S.Ct. 2557, 2560-61 & n. 4, 73 L.Ed.2d 172 (1982) ("[L]egislative purpose ... is of paramount importance in the exhaustion context because Congress is vested with the power to prescribe the basic procedural scheme under which claims may be heard in federal courts.... [T]he initial question whether exhaustion is required should be answered by reference to congressional intent."). If Congress intended to delay federal court review of claims by aliens against whom deportation proceedings have been instituted until the conclusion of the administrative proceedings, then neither the district court nor this court can override that decision. See, e.g., McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S. 140, 144, 112 S.Ct. 1081, 1086, 117 L.Ed.2d 291 (1992) ...

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