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Fekadu H. v. Freitag

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 3, 2019

Fekadu H., Petitioner,
Kurt Freitag, Freeborn County Sheriff, William P. Barr, Attorney General of the United States, and Peter Berg, ICE Field Office Director, Respondents.

          Fekadu H., Freeborn (pro se Petitioner); and

          Ana H. Voss, Ann M. Bildtsen, and Gregory G. Booker, Assistant United States Attorneys, (for Respondents Barr and Berg).


          Tony N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court, United States Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung, on Petitioner Fekadu H.'s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No. 1). This action has been referred to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation to the Honorable David S. Doty, United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota, under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1. For the reasons set forth below, this Court recommends that the petition be denied as moot and this action be dismissed.


         Petitioner is a native and citizen of Ethiopia. (ECF No. 7, p. 2). Petitioner entered the United States as a lawful permanent resident and recipient of a Diversity Immigrant visa in 2001. (Id.). In 2018, following his arrest and conviction for a criminal offense in New York, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detained and commenced removal proceedings against him. (Id.).

         On January 2, 2019, an Immigration Judge ordered Petitioner removed to Ethiopia. (ECF No. 7-1, p. 29). Petitioner appealed. (ECF No. 7, p. 3). The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed the appeal on June 12, 2019. (Id.). Approximately one week later, ICE requested travel documents from the Ethiopian Embassy on Petitioner's behalf. (Id., p. 4).

         On July 8, 2019, Petitioner filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus. (ECF No. 1). He alleges that “there is no likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future” and that his continued detention violates his due process rights. (Id.). Respondents answered the petition on August 21, 2019. (ECF No. 6).

         Petitioner was subsequently deported on September 10, 2019. (ECF No. 10). Respondents filed a supplemental response to the the Petition on October 3, 2019. (ECF No. 9). Respondents argued that Petitioner's deportation renders this matter moot and requested that the petition be dismissed. (ECF No. 9).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Mootness

         The United States Constitution limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts to ongoing cases and controversies. Haden v. Pelofsky, 212 F.3d 466, 469 (8th Cir. 2000); see U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. The case-or-controversy requirement exists at all stages of federal judicial proceedings. Potter v. Norwest Mortg., Inc., 329 F.3d 608, 611 (8th Cir. 2003). It is of no consequence that a claim was live at an earlier stage in the proceedings; a claim must be live when the court decides the issues. South Dakota v. Hazen, 914 F.2d 147, 150 (8th Cir. 1990). “When, during the course of litigation, the issues presented in a case ‘lose their life because of the passage of time or a change in circumstances . . . and a federal court can no longer grant effective relief,' the case is considered moot.” Haden, 212 F.3d at 469 (alteration in original) (quoting Beck v. Mo. State High Sch. Activities Ass'n, 18 F.3d 604, 605 (8th Cir. 1994)). Federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear moot cases. Minn. Humane Soc'y v. Clark, 184 F.3d 795, 797 (8th Cir. 1999). Thus, when an action is moot because it no longer satisfies the case-or-controversy requirement, “a federal court must dismiss the action.” Potter, 329 F.3d at 611 (citing Minn. Humane Soc'y, 184 F.3d at 797).

         In this case, Petitioner seeks release from ICE custody. Petitioner is no longer in ICE custody, however, because he has been removed from the United States. There is no longer an on-going controversy because Petitioner is no longer being detained. As Petitioner has been removed and is no longer in ICE custody, any order of release from the Court would be ineffectual. Because the Court cannot grant Petitioner effective relief, Petitioner's challenge to his continued detention pending removal is moot. See, e.g., Ahmed v. Sessions, No. 16-cv-2124 (DSD/HB), 2017 WL 3267738, at *2 (D. Minn. July 11, 2017) (habeas petition was moot because petitioner's removal from the United States left “nothing for the [c]ourt to grant by way of habeas relief” as petitioner was no longer in ICE custody), adopting report and recommendation, 2017 WL 3268176 (D. Minn. July 31, 2017); Estrada-Heredia v. Holder, No. 12-cv-1157 (SRN/SER), 2012 WL 4839113, at *2 (D. Minn. Sept. 25, 2012) (habeas petition moot where petitioner was already repatriated to Mexico), adopting report and recommendation, 2012 WL 4839019 (D. Minn. Oct. 11, 2012); Mhanna v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., No. 10-cv-292 (JRT/LIB), 2010 WL 5141803, at *12 (D. Minn. Dec. 13, 2010) (determining that petitioner's removal from the United States rendered habeas claim relating to ICE detention moot).

         B. Mootness ...

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