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Algassimu Jah v. Eric H. Holder

December 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Sherrill, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge


Petitioner, proceeding pro se, initiated this case on August 3, 2011, by filing a § 2241 petition for writ of habeas corpus. Doc. 1. Petitioner is a native and citizen of Sierra Leone, and contends he has been detained in immigration custody since December 28, 2009, while awaiting removal. Id. The order of removal became final on April 16, 2010. Id., at 4. Petitioner contends that Sierra Leone refuses to issue travel documents to him and Respondents "refuse to release him even though they are unable to deport him and will be unable to deport him in the reasonably foreseeable future."

Id., at 2.

Respondents filed a response to the petition on October 11, 2011, asserting that Petitioner's continued detention is lawful because of Petitioner's continued refusal to cooperate with removal efforts. Doc. 17. Respondents have demonstrated that Petitioner has "refused to board three separate flights . . . arranged for him to return to Sierra Leone." Id.

Petitioner entered the United States of America on September 24, 1991, on a non-immigrant visa which authorized him to remain in America for six months. Doc. 17, ex. 1 (doc. 17-1). Petitioner overstayed his visa and was arrested in Orlando, Florida, on December 28, 2009. Id. On March 1, 2010, an Immigration Judge found Petitioner was removable for overstaying his visa, but rather than entering a removal order, the judge granted Petitioner the privilege of voluntary departure and he was ordered to depart by March 31, 2010. Id. When Petitioner failed to make arrangements to depart, ICE requested travel documents from the Consulate of Sierra Leone on March 30t, 2010, and granted Petitioner a 15-day extension of his voluntary departure deadline. Id. Petitioner failed to leave the United States and, consequently, the order permitting Petitioner's voluntary departure automatically became a final order of removal on April 16, 2010. Id.

Petitioner has steadfastly refused to cooperate with removal efforts. Id. On May 11, 2010, Petitioner was requested to provide his fingerprints, and he refused to do so, or provide his signature. Doc. 17, attachment B to ex. 1 (doc. 17-1, p. 6). Petitioner admitted to the Deportation Officer in a written statement on May 12, 2010, that he was refusing to assist in removal efforts and stated his intent to wait out the removal period and force the government to release him. Id. Petitioner wrote on a detainee request form:

If you want to deport me, you have to go all out to look for travel document. I am not going [sic] help you find any travel document. It's you [sic] job as a deportation officer. All I know is you don't have any choice but to released [sic] me after 90 days, on July 16. I am going to wait as long as it takes. The burden is on you, is not on me. I am just relaxing here, eat three times a day and watch T.V. my lawyer told me not to sign any document.

Doc. 17, attachment A to ex. 1 (doc. 17-1, p. 5). On May 18, 2010, Petitioner was served with a Notice of Failure to Comply form. Id.

On August 24, 2010, ICE received approval from Sierra Leone to return Petitioner to his native country. Doc. 17, ex. 1. Arrangements were made for Petitioner to depart unescorted on October 4, 2010, but Petitioner refused to board the airplane. Id. Petitioner was then rescheduled for a flight on October 29, 2010, and this time he would be accompanied by two ICE agents. Id. Again, Petitioner verbally and physically refused to board the airplane. Doc. 17, attachment C to ex. 1 (doc. 17-1, p. 8). The Captain of the aircraft then refused to have the "uncooperative detainee" board the flight. Doc. 17, attachment D to ex. 1 (doc. 17-1, p. 9). Due to his failure to cooperate, ICE determined Petitioner should not be released from custody pending his removal. Doc. 17, attachment E to ex. 1 (doc. 17-1, p. 10).

The prior travel documents expired on November 2, 2010. Doc. 17, ex. 1. Sierra Leone issued a second travel document for Petitioner and he was scheduled for a third flight on February 25, 2011. Id. As occurred before, Petitioner refused to board the airplane. Id.

In July, 2011, ICE began working on a third travel document for Petitioner. Petitioner was interviewed by the Consulate and stated that he would not return to Sierra Leone because he had a child in the United States. Id. The Consulate said it would need to contact its government regarding this case. Id. On September 26, 2011, ICE officials met with Sierra Leone Embassy staff to discus the pending request for Petitioner's third travel document. Both governments are working together to return Petitioner to Sierra Leone. Id. Due to Petitioner's actions in thwarting his removal, Respondents maintain that Petitioner should not be released from custody.

Respondents have, therefore, demonstrated that Sierra Leone has issued two travel documents for Petitioner in the past. Respondents have shown that Petitioner's removal is likely in the foreseeable future.

In reply, Petitioner has filed what is essentially a letter to the court. Doc. 20. Petitioner asserts that "Respondents continued to detain Petitioner, even though they were unable to remove him to his native country . . . ." and he asserts his detention is "unlawful." Id., at 1. Petitioner contends he has cooperated with removal efforts because he signed the I-229 papers, he went to an interview with the Consulate, and he contends he "went to the airport to effect his removal." Id., at 1-2. Yet, Petitioner also acknowledges that Respondents are correct when they state that he "refused to board" three separate flights to return to Sierra Leone. Petitioner points to his "brief" filed in support of his ยง 2241 ...

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