Immigration Law

CA4 Upholds Habeas Victory: Guzman Chavez v. Hott

Guzman Chavez v. Hott

"The petitioners in this case are a class of noncitizens subject to reinstated removal orders, which generally are not open to challenge. The petitioners may, however, pursue withholding of removal if they have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in the countries designated in their removal orders. Availing themselves of that right, these petitioners sought withholding of removal, and they are being detained by the government while they await the outcome of their “withholding-only” proceedings. The question before us is whether they have the right to individualized bond hearings that could lead to their release during those proceedings. Answering that question requires that we determine the statutory authority under which the government detains noncitizens who seek withholding of removal after a prior removal order has been reinstated. The petitioners argue that their detention is governed by 8 U.S.C. § 1226, which authorizes detention “pending a decision on whether the alien is to be removed,” and would allow them to seek release on bond and to make their case before an immigration judge. The government, on the other hand, points to 8 U.S.C. § 1231, which applies “when an alien is ordered removed” – as the petitioners were, the government says, by virtue of their reinstated removal orders – and makes that detention mandatory during a 90-day “removal period.” The district court [Romero v. Evans, 280 F. Supp. 3d 835 (E.D. Va. 2017)] granted summary judgment to the petitioners, holding that they are detained under § 1226 because a decision on removal remains “pending” until their withholding-only proceedings are complete. We agree with the district court’s careful analysis of the relevant statutes and affirm its judgment."