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Cabrera v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 14, 2019





         On January 12, 2017, Defendant U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) revoked Plaintiff Marvin Yovany Cabrera Cabrera's previously approved Form I-360 visa petition for special immigrant juvenile status. USCIS determined that Plaintiff was not eligible for special immigrant juvenile status because he filed his Petition on the day of his 21st birthday, instead of before his 21st birthday, as required by the agency's regulations. Plaintiff brings this action challenging the revocation of his I-360 Petition under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701 et seq., and the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution.

         Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint both for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. As to subject matter jurisdiction, Defendants argue that this court lacks the power to review agency decisions revoking I-360 Petitions because such actions are discretionary and specifically excluded by statute from judicial review. As for failure to state a claim, Defendants maintain that Plaintiff has not adduced facts that render it plausible that the agency's action was arbitrary and capricious. Defendants also point out that the court lacks jurisdiction as to Plaintiff's constitutional claims, which must be raised directly with the D.C. Circuit.

         The court grants Defendants' Motion to Dismiss in part and denies it in part. The court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiff's APA claim insofar as he alleges that the revocation of his Petition was arbitrary and capricious because the agency unreasonably delayed in taking such action. The court, however, has jurisdiction to review Plaintiff's challenge to the reasonableness of USCIS's regulations on filing petitions seeking special immigrant juvenile status and the implementation of those regulations. Finally, with respect to Plaintiff's constitutional claims, the court defers to Plaintiff as to whether those claims should be transferred now or later to the D.C. Circuit for review.


         A. Legal Background

         Section 204(a)(1)(G) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (“INA”) allows persons qualifying for Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status to obtain a residency visa and eventually seek lawful permanent residence. See 8 U.S.C. § 1154(a)(1)(G)(ii). Section 101(a)(27)(J) of the INA defines an SIJ as:

         (J) an immigrant who is present in the United States-

(i) who has been declared dependent on a juvenile court located in the United States or whom such a court has legally committed to, or placed under the custody of, an agency or department of a State, or an individual or entity appointed by a State or juvenile court located in the United States, and whose reunification with 1 or both of the immigrant's parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under State law;
(ii) for whom it has been determined in administrative or judicial proceedings that it would not be in the alien's best interest to be returned to the alien's or parent's previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence; and
(iii) in whose case the Secretary of Homeland Security consents to the grant of special immigrant juvenile status, except that-
(I) no juvenile court has jurisdiction to determine the custody status or placement of an alien in the custody of the Secretary of Health and Human Services unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services specifically consents to such jurisdiction; and
(II) no natural parent or prior adoptive parent of any alien provided special immigrant status under this subparagraph shall thereafter, by virtue of such parentage, be accorded any right, privilege, or status under this chapter;

8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J). Essentially, the statute requires that anyone seeking SIJ status must have first been the subject of a local juvenile court order indicating that (1) he is a dependent of that court, (2) that reunification with one or both parents is not viable “due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis, ” and (3) that return to his home country is not in his best interest.

         Satisfying the INA's definition of Special Immigrant Juvenile does not, however, by itself make one eligible for residency status. USCIS Regulations impose additional requirements. Those Regulations provide:

         An alien is eligible for classification as a special immigrant under section 101(a)(27)(J) of the Act if the alien:

(1) Is under twenty-one years of age;
(2) Is unmarried;
(3) Has been declared dependent upon a juvenile court located in the United States in accordance with state law governing such declarations of dependency, while the alien was in the United States and under the jurisdiction of the court;
(4) Has been deemed eligible by the juvenile court for long-term foster care;
(5) Continues to be dependent upon the juvenile court and eligible for long-term foster care, such declaration, dependency or eligibility not having been ...

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