Summaries of December, 2015 and January, 2016 District Court decisions from the 11th Circuit related to Immigration

This is the third issue of the newsletter summarizing important immigration-related cases decided by the District Courts from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. The summarized cases are for December 2015 and January 2016. All of the attorneys writing the summaries – John Gihon, Marshall Cohen, Roberta Cooper – should be commended for their hard work. Any feedback from members, including ideas to improve it, would be appreciated. You may contact Bruce Buchanan at or John Gihon at

Ali v. Swacina, et al., 15-cv-61820-BLOOM/Valle (S.D. Fla. Dec. 11, 2015)
Mr. Ali brought suit against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a myriad of co-defendants for taking part in the denial of his N-400 Application for Naturalization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c). This Code provision allows persons, like Mr. Ali, who have had their N- 400s denied and who sought and were denied relief during an N-336 review hearing, to bring their action directly to District Court for a de novo review of the decision. Mr. Ali joined multiple other federal law enforcement agencies in the action. These collateral agencies sought and received dismissal of the action against them as only one agency, DHS, had authority and responsibility for the denial of his N-400. Thus, the suit remained only against the DHS.

Ramirez v. Castro et al., 15-21462-Civ-Cooke/Torres (S.D. Fla. Jan. 13, 2016)
Mr. Ramirez filed a Petition for Review of the decision denying his N-400 Application for Naturalization. At issue is the exact date on which Mr. Ramirez was convicted of, what both sides agreed, was an aggravated felony. Mr. Ramirez argued that he was convicted prior to November 29, 1990, when he entered his plea of guilty, but before he was formally sentenced; therefore, he was not barred forever from establishing good moral character for the purposes of naturalization. The USCIS argued that Mr. Ramirez was not convicted until after November 29, 1990, when he was formally sentenced on his guilty plea that took place prior to the 1990 deadline. The District Court held that Mr. Ramirez was not formally convicted until after he entered his guilty plea and was formally sentenced, which took place after November 29, 1990. Therefore, his Application was properly denied and the Court dismissed the Petition.

Otah v. Holder, 4:15-cv-380-KOB-TMP (N.D. Ala. Jan. 21, 2016)
Mr. Otah filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus challenging his prolonged detention by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mr. Otah requested a bond hearing while he awaited removal from the United States and while his Petition for Review (PFR) was pending with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The District Court in Alabama determined that because the Ninth Circuit stayed his removed pending the PFR, the 180 day removal period had not yet expired and his detention continued to be reasonable under Zadvydas. In addition, the Court inexplicably held that any challenge to his detention should be filed with the Ninth Circuit, where his PFR was pending, not with the District Court with jurisdiction over where he was detained.

John Gihon is a Florida Bar Board Certified expert in Immigration and Nationality Law and a Crimmigration Consultant. You can contact John If you need an Orlando Immigration Attorney or need a crimmigration consultation, no matter where you live in the world.

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