United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Samer Abdulrazzaq Mohammed and his family have brought this
lawsuit under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C.
§ 701 et seq., to challenge the denial of their
application for refugee resettlement in the United States
under Section 207 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act,
8 U.S.C. § 1157. Defendants now move to dismiss for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim,
arguing that the claims are non-justiciable and barred by
longstanding principles of nonreviewability of visa denials.
Because it lacks jurisdiction to review discretionary denials
of refugee resettlement applications, the Court grants the
motion to dismiss.
Samer Abdulrazzaq Mohammed (“Mohammed”) is an
Iraqi national who lives in Baghdad with the four other
plaintiffs in this case, his wife Hanan Hasan Salih and his
three sons Mohammed Samer Abdulrazzaq, Ali Samer Abdulrazzaq,
and Husain Samer Abdulrazzaq. See 2014 Request for
Review Supporting Docs., Compl. Ex. 3, at 10-14, ECF No. 1-3;
2017 Marwa Samer Abdulrazzaq Letter, Compl. Ex. 7, at 1, ECF
No. 1-7; 2017 Request for Review, Compl. Ex. 8, at 2, ECF No.
1-8. Mohammed is an engineer by profession. See 2014
Request for Review, Compl. Ex. 2, at 1, ECF No. 1-2. Between
2004 and 2009, Mohammed worked as a subcontractor on a number
of projects in the International Zone in Baghdad, including
at the United States Embassy. Id. at 2. As a result
of his work in the International Zone, Mohammed was targeted
for reprisals and forced to relocate multiple times between
2006 and 2009, including moving to Syria for two years
between 2006 and 2008 after armed militia ransacked his home
and threatened his family's life in July 2006. See
Id. at 2-4.
2009, Mohammed and his family applied for refugee
resettlement in the United States through the U.S. Refugee
Admissions Program. Id. at 1. Under Section §
207 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act
(“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1157, the admission of
refugees is committed to the discretion of the Secretary of
the Department of Homeland Security. See 8 U.S.C.
§ 1157(c)(1); 6 U.S.C. § 557. On July 9, 2014, the
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(“USCIS”) issued Mohammed a notice of
ineligibility for resettlement. Notice of Ineligibility,
Compl. Ex. 1, at 1, ECF No. 1-1. The notice explained that
Mohammed and his family's application for refugee
resettlement under § 207 of the INA had “been
denied as a matter of discretion for security-related
reasons.” Id. at 2.
same month, Mohammed filed a request for review of the
denial, attaching a number of documents in support. Compl. at
5; see generally 2014 Request for Review; 2014
Request for Review Supporting Docs. While there is no formal
mechanism for review of refugee resettlement applications,
see 8 U.S.C. § 1157; 8 C.F.R. § 207.4
(“There is no appeal from a denial of refugee status
under this chapter”), USCIS considers informal requests
for review of such denials in its discretion, see
Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 3, ECF No. 11. In this
case, USCIS responded to the request for review in June 2015,
upholding the denial because the request for review
“did not contain any new information or an allegation
of error in the adjudication of [Mohammed's]
claim.” June 11, 2015 Request for Review Response,
Compl. Ex. 4, at 1, ECF No. 1-4. Mohammed filed a renewed
request for review in August 2015, which was denied in
February 2017. 2017 Request for Review at 1. And finally,
Mohammed submitted a final request for review in April 2017,
Compl. at 6; 2017 Request for Review, which was denied by
USCIS in September 2017, Compl. at 6.
December 12, 2017, Mohammed and his family brought suit
against various U.S. government officials, alleging that the
denial of the family's refugee resettlement application
was an arbitrary and capricious decision in violation of the
Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). Compl. at
2-3. On June 15, 2018, Defendants moved to dismiss for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.
See Defs.' Mot. Dismiss at 1, ECF No. 11.
Plaintiffs filed their opposition on August 6, 2018,
Pls.' Mem. Opp'n Mot. Dismiss at 1, ECF No. 14, and
Defendants filed their reply on August 17, 2018, Defs.'
Reply at 1, ECF No. 16. The motion to dismiss is now ripe for
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides for the dismissal
of an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Federal
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and it is
generally presumed that “a cause lies outside this
limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Accordingly,
it is imperative that this Court “begin, and end,
” with an examination of its jurisdiction. Gen.
Motors Corp. v. EPA, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004).
the plaintiff's burden to establish that the court has
subject matter jurisdiction over his or her claims. Lujan
v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). In
determining whether the plaintiff has met this burden, a
court must accept “the allegations of the complaint as
true, ” Banneker Ventures, LLC v. Graham, 798
F.3d 1119, 1129 (D.C. Cir. 2015), and “construe the
complaint liberally, granting the plaintiff the benefit of
all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged[,
]” Barr v. Clinton, 370 F.3d 1196, 1199 (D.C.
Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted). However,
“the plaintiff's factual allegations in the
complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a
12(b)(1) motion than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for
failure to state a claim.” Grand Lodge of Fraternal
Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13-14
challenge the discretionary denial of their refugee
resettlement application pursuant to 8 U.S.C. §
1157(c)(1). They bring this challenge under § 702 of the
APA, arguing that the denial caused a legal wrong that
entitles them to judicial review. Compl. at 3 (citing 5
U.S.C. § 702). Defendants argue that the Court does not
have jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' APA claims because the
INA expressly divested courts of jurisdiction over
discretionary decisions like refugee resettlement denials.
Defs.' Mem. Supp. at 6. The Court agrees with Defendants,
and accordingly grants the motion to dismiss.
APA confers a general cause of action upon persons
‘adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action
within the meaning of a relevant statute.'”
Block v. Cmty. Nutrition Inst., 467 U.S. 340, 345
(1984) (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 702). However, the APA
“withdraws that cause of action to the extent the
relevant statute ‘preclude[s] judicial
review.'” Id. (alteration in original)
(quoting 5 U.S.C. § 701(a)(1)). And the INA includes
such a restriction on judicial review: it provides that
“any . . . decision or action of . . . the Secretary of
Homeland Security the authority for which is specified . . .
to be in the discretion of the . . . . Secretary of Homeland
Security” is not subject to judicial review by federal
courts. 8 U.S.C. § ...