Sopo v. U.S. Attorney General, No. 14-11421 (11th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Petitioner, a lawful asylee from Cameroon, pled guilty to bank fraud and became removable as an aggravated felon. After petitioner completed his criminal sentence, ICE took custody of him and he has been in ICE detention since February 2, 2012. On appeal, the court addressed an issue of first impression: During their removal proceedings, are criminal aliens, like petitioner, detained under section 1226(c) entitled at any point to a bond hearing under the Due Process Clause? The court held that section 1226(c) contains an implicit temporal limitation against the unreasonably prolonged detention of criminal aliens without an individualized bond hearing. The court then established an approach for determining when the removal proceedings and the resulting section 1226(c) mandatory detention of a criminal alien become unreasonably protracted, triggering the need for a bond hearing. Joining the First, Third, and Sixth Circuits, the court adopted the case-by-case approach in determining whether a detention of a criminal alien has become unreasonable. Section 2241 courts must consult the record and balance the government’s interest in continued detention against the criminal alien’s liberty interest, always seeking to determine whether the alien’s liberty interest has begun to outweigh “any justification for using presumptions to detain him without bond.” If the balance tips in the alien’s favor, the district court must grant the section 2241 habeas petition and order the government to afford the criminal alien an individualized bond inquiry. When detained criminal aliens become entitled to a bond hearing, the agency shall conduct a bond inquiry under the procedures outlined in 8 C.F.R. 1236.1(c)(8) and (d). Finally, applying the court's holdings in petitioner's case, the court concluded that he must receive an immediate bond hearing as habeas relief. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on May 17, 2018.