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Xia v. Kerry

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 16, 2015

LIHONG XIA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN F. KERRY, U.S. Secretary of State, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROYCE C. LAMBERTH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [24]. Upon consideration of the record and applicable legal standards, the plaintiffs' motion will be DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs brought suit against John F. Kerry, Secretary of State, and Jeh C. Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ("Defendants"), in January 2014.[1]Compl. 1. The plaintiffs alleged violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; the Civil Rights Act ("CRA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983; the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1421, 1451(a); and the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 62-71.

This Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims sua sponte in November 2014 for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 19. Namely, the Court found that three of the four plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment, INA and APA claims failed because only Xia had administratively exhausted her claim. ECF No. 18 at 14-15. The Court also found that the complaint failed to state a claim under the Fifth Amendment because it did not describe "what additional procedures plaintiffs believe[d] they were guaranteed pursuant to the Due Process Clause." Id. at 11.

Additionally, the Court determined that the plaintiffs did not adequately state a cause of action under the CRA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, because they failed to allege that the defendants acted "under color of state law." See Id. at 12-13 (noting that these sections of the CRA are inapplicable to actions against "federal defendants acting under color of federal law"). The complaint also failed to state a claim under the INA §§ 1421 and 1451(a) because, in sum, these statutes did not apply to the provided facts. Id. at 14.

Finally, the plaintiffs did not adequately plead specific violations of the APA They made broad claims that their passports were arbitrarily revoked and did not explain how this revocation was arbitrary or what process they were denied when their naturalization certificates were cancelled. Id. at 15. Furthermore, the Court determined that "[e]ven if plaintiffs had adequately pleaded specific violations of the APA, plaintiff Xia likely would be precluded from such a claim because she ha[d] an alternate judicial remedy available to her." Id. at 14.

This "alternate judicial remedy" available to Xia is § 1503 of the INA See Id. at 16 ("[O]nly plaintiff Xia has administratively exhausted her claims, and therefore is entitled to bring a claim under Section 1503."). As asserted by the Court, "At the heart of Xia's claim is her desire to be recognized as a United States citizen: to be afforded due process and obtain a lawful passport and Naturalization Certificate. This seems to be exactly the opportunity Section 1503 offers her." Id. (internal citations omitted). "Section 1503 permits citizens to have an Article III court adjudge their citizenship de novo if it is questioned. A successful adjudication would permit Xia to obtain the relevant paperwork." Id. at 16-17.

The Court also noted that courts must generally give plaintiffs an opportunity to amend their complaint following a sua sponte dismissal of their claims. Id. at 8. Thus, though the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint, it identified an opportunity for plaintiff Xia to move to file an amended complaint, presumably based on § 1503.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration [21] of the dismissal, which the Court denied because the dismissal was not a "final judgment." ECF No. 23 at 1. In this memorandum, the Court once again reminded the plaintiffs that they could request leave to file an amended complaint. See Id. at 2 ("[P]laintiffs are permitted to seek to file an amended complaint in an attempt to satisfy the requirements of Twombly and Iqbal. Of course, this motion must be accompanied by a proposed amended complaint that plaintiffs [sic] will seek to file, giving defendants an opportunity to oppose.").

In April 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. ECF No. 24. The proposed amended complaint once again requests relief under the Fifth Amendment, the CRA, the INA, and the APA, but it also adds a claim under § 1447 of the INA and explicitly invokes § 1503 of the INA as recommended by the Court. ECF No. 24-1.

Defendants oppose the plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend on multiple grounds. In short, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs' amended complaint "does not remedy the fatal flaws of their original complaint." Id. at 10. Additionally, the defendants assert that this Court is the incorrect venue for plaintiff Xia's § 1503 claim.

The Court must now determine whether the plaintiffs should be granted leave to file their proposed amended ...


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