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United States v. Miramontes-Maldonado

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 16, 2020



          B. Lynn Winmill U.S. District Court Judge.


         Before the Court is Defendant Sergio Miramontes-Maldonado's Motion to Dismiss the Indictment (Dkt. 30). For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny the motion.


         Miramontes is charged with a single count of illegal reentry in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326. Dkt. 1. The indictment alleges that Miramontes was removed from the United States in 2000. Id. The removal proceeding in 2000 was a reinstatement of a 1997 exclusion and removal proceeding. See Def.'s Ex. D, Dkt. 30-4. Miramontes challenges the validity of the 1997 exclusion proceeding.[1]

         The 1997 exclusion proceedings began on January 7, 1997 when Mr. Miramontes applied for entry to the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Mot. at 5, Dkt. 30; see Miramontes Decl. ¶ 13, Dkt. 30-3. The next day, immigration authorities served Miramontes with a Notice to Applicant for Admission Detained for Hearing Before Immigration Judge (Form I-122) and a Form I-110 that indicated Miramontes had applied for admission as “an alien presenting a counterfeit I-94 form bearing a counterfeit adit stamp.” Mot. at 5, Dkt. 30; Def.'s Ex. D, Dkt. 30-4 at 8-9. He was detained for further inquiry, placed under exclusion proceedings, and taken into INS custody pending an exclusion hearing. Def.'s Ex. D, Dkt. 30-4 at 10.

         At the exclusion hearing he indicated that he was willing to accept an exclusion and deportation order and was then ordered excluded from the United States under § 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (codified as 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) (1994 Sup. II)). Def.'s Ex. D, Dkt. 30-4 at 6-7. The hearing was recorded but the recording is incomprehensible. See Def.'s Ex. A, Dkt. 30-1 at 2.; Def.'s Ex. B, Dkt. 30-2 at 2. On January 13, 1997, Miramontes was presented with a Notice to Alien Ordered Excluded by Immigration Judge (Form I-296), which stated that “[a]n immigration judge has ordered that you be excluded from admission into the United States, and that you be deported from the United States.” Def.'s Ex. D, Dkt. 30-4 at 3. Miramontes was thereby excluded and deported. In his current motion, Miramontes argues the IJ violated his due process rights by failing to properly maintain a contemporaneous recording of the exclusion hearing, failing to inform him of the immigration charges against him in a language he understood, and by failing to advise him of his eligibility for withdrawal of application.


         Under 8 U.S.C. § 1326, a defendant charged with illegal re-entry after removal may collaterally attack the removal order. 8 U.S.C. § 1326 (2019); United States v. Mendoza-Lopez, 481 U.S. 828, 837-38 (1987). To sustain a collateral attack, a defendant must demonstrate that (1) he “exhausted any administrative remedies that may have been available to seek relief against the order; (2) the deportation proceedings at which the order was issued improperly deprived [him] of the opportunity for judicial review; and (3) the entry of the order was fundamentally unfair.” 8 U.S.C. § 1326(d) (2019). An underlying removal order is fundamentally unfair if: (1) defects in the underlying deportation proceeding violated a defendant's due process rights and (2) the defendant was prejudiced because of such defects. United States v. Ubaldo-Figueroa, 364 F.3d 1042, 1048 (9th Cir. 2004). If a defendant successfully demonstrates prejudice, the burden shifts and the government may attempt to show that that the procedural violation could not have changed the outcome. United States v. Gonzalez-Valerio, 364 F.3d 1051, 1054 (9th Cir. 2003).


         1. The IJ's Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

         As a threshold matter, Miramontes argues that the IJ lacked jurisdiction over his removal proceedings because the “Notice to Appear” did not contain a specific date and time for the hearing. As this Court recently made clear in United States v. Gonzalez-Sanchez, 398 F.Supp.3d 794 (D. Idaho 2019), [2] the Ninth Circuit's recent decision in Karingithi v. Whitaker, 913 F.3d 1158 (9th Cir. 2019) forecloses this argument. In Karingithi, the Ninth Circuit held that an IJ had jurisdiction over removal proceedings even though the Notice to Appear lacked a date and time for the removal hearing.

         Miramontes raises several arguments as to why Karingithi was wrongly decided. But “once a federal circuit court issues a decision, the district courts within that circuit are bound to follow it and have no authority to await a ruling by the Supreme Court before applying the circuit court's decision as binding authority.” Yong v. I.N.S., 208 F.3d 1116, 1119 n.2 (9th Cir. 2000). Under controlling Ninth Circuit precedent, the IJ had subject-matter jurisdiction over the 1997 removal proceeding.

         2. Miramontes's ...

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