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Vu v. Mayorkas

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 30, 2013

PHONG THI VU, CUC THI TRUONG, HONG XUAN BUI, HUE THI NGUYEN, Petitioners,
v.
ALEJANDRO N. MAYORKAS, DOES 1-10, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, Respondents.

ORDER (1) GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT AS MOOT; AND (2) DENYING MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT (ECF Nos. 12, 26).

JANIS L. SAMMARTINO, District Judge.

Petitioners Phong Thi Vu ("Vu"), Cuc Thi Truong ("Truong"), Hong Xuan Bui ("Bui"), and Hue Thi Nguyen's ("Nyugen, " and collectively, "Petitioners") bring this action for a writ of mandamus to compel U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") to process their applications for naturalization. Petitioners filed this suit on August 6, 2012. Less than three months later, on October 29, 2012, USCIS denied Petitioners' naturalization applications. Respondents Alejandro N. Mayorkas, USCIS, and the Department of Homeland Security (collectively, "the Government") then moved to dismiss Petitioners' complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that this case is moot because Petitioners obtained the only remedy that they sought in their complaint. Petitioners subsequently moved for leave to file an amended complaint to invoke this Court's exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate their naturalization applications pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), as well as to raise constitutional and statutory challenges to USCIS policies and practices.

Presently before the Court are the Government's Motion to Dismiss Complaint as Moot, (Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 12), and Petitioners' Motion to Amend Complaint (Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 26). Also before the Court are the associated oppositions and replies. (Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No.24; Reply in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 27; Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 28; Reply in Supp. of Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 32). The motion hearings set for March 14, 2013 and April 4, 2013, respectively, were vacated and the matters taken under submission on the papers pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS the Government's motion to dismiss and DENIES Petitioners' motion for leave to amend.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner Vu is a citizen of Vietnam and has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since November 16, 1990. On May 14, 2010, Vu filed an application for naturalization with USCIS. At the time she filed her application, Vu also filed a Form N-648, "Medical Certification for Disability Exception, " seeking an exception to the English language and U.S. history and civics requirements for naturalization prescribed by 8 U.S.C. § 1423. Vu appeared for an initial interview with USCIS on August 4, 2010. At the interview, the USCIS officer determined that Vu's Form N-648 was incomplete and rejected her request for a medical waiver. A second interview was held on October 18, 2010 and Vu submitted a second Form N-648 at this time. The USCIS officer again rejected the request on the ground that it was inconsistent with Vu's testimony regarding her disabilities. A third and final interview was held on January 3, 2011. The USCIS officer attempted to place Vu under oath and to conduct the English language and U.S. history and civics portions of the naturalization exam. Vu was unable to understand, or respond to, the USCIS officer in English and therefore failed to meet these requirements. Vu subsequently requested to withdraw her naturalization application.

Petitioner Truong is also a citizen of Vietnam and a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Truong filed a naturalization application on April 14, 2010, and appeared at an initial interview with USCIS on July 16, 2010. At her interview, Truong submitted a Form N-648, which the USCIS officer rejected as incomplete and inadequate. Truong was administered the English language and U.S. history and civics portions of the naturalization exam, but she was unable to respond to the USCIS officer in English and thus did not pass. On August 25, 2010, Truong submitted a second Form N-648, which USCIS also rejected. A second interview was scheduled for Truong on October 14, 2010, but she did not appear.

Petitioner Nguyen is also a citizen of Vietnam and a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Nguyen submitted a naturalization application on November 8, 2010. At her initial interview with USCIS on March 10, 2011, Nguyen submitted a Form N-648, which USCIS rejected as incomplete and inadequate. Nguyen was administered the English language and U.S. history and civics portion of the naturalization exam, but she was unable to understand, or respond to, the USCIS officer in English and consequently failed the exam. Nguyen appeared for a second interview with USCIS on May 10, 2011, and submitted a second Form N-648, which USCIS also rejected. Ngyuen was administered the exam for a second time and again failed to pass.

Petitioner Bui is also a Vietnamese citizen and lawful permanent resident of the United States. Bui filed an application for naturalization on November 11, 2010, and appeared for an interview with USCIS on March 10, 2011. At his interview, he presented a Form N-648, which USCIS rejected as incomplete and inadequate. USCIS provided Bui with a second interview, on May 10, 2011, at which time Bui submitted a second Form N-648. Bui's N-648 request was again rejected and the USCIS officer proceeded to administer the English language and U.S. history and civics portion of the naturalization exam to Bui. Bui was unable to understand or respond to the USCIS officer in English and thus failed to pass the exam.

On August 6, 2012, Petitioners filed suit in this Court. (Compl., ECF No. 1). Petitioners sought a writ of mandamus compelling USCIS to adjudicate their naturalization applications. ( Id. at ¶ 1). Petitioners invoked the Court's subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the statutory grant of federal question jurisdiction, as well as 28 U.S.C. § 1361, the mandamus statute. ( Id. at ¶ 5). Petitioners sought relief under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq., the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as 28 U.S.C. § 2201, the Declaratory Judgment Act, and 28 U.S.C. § 1651, the All Writs Act. ( Id. at ¶ 6).

On October 29, 2012, USCIS denied Petitioners' applications, citing Petitioners' inability to meet the educational requirements for naturalization or to provide complete and adequate N-648 waivers exempting them from those requirements. ( See Exs. A-D, Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 12). Petitioners appealed the denial of their applications by requesting a hearing before a USCIS officer, as provided by 8 U.S.C. § 1447(a) and 8 C.F.R. § 336.2. (Ex. A, Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 28). Vu's appeal was received by USCIS on December 3, 2012, and she attended a biometrics appointment at USCIS on February 27, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 2). Truong's appeal was received by USCIS on December 6, 2012 and she also attended a biometrics appointment on February 27, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 3). USCIS received Nguyen's and Bui's appeals on February 14, 2013. ( Id. at ¶¶ 4-5). All four appeals are currently pending with USCIS. ( Id. at ¶ 6).

On January 3, 2013, in light of USCIS's denial of Petitioners' naturalization applications, the Government filed the motion to dismiss currently before the Court. (Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 12). On February 25, 2013, Petitioners filed an amended complaint, requesting that this Court review their naturalization applications de novo pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), challenging USCIS's practices with respect to the handling of N-648 requests for medical waiver, and also seeking to enjoin USCIS from proceeding with Vu and Truong's February 27, 2013 appointments. On February 26, 2013, the Court denied the request for injunctive relief and-because the amended complaint was filed without leave of the Court in violation of Rule 15(a)(2)-struck the amended complaint from the docket. (Order, ECF No. 25). On February 27, 2013, Petitioners filed the motion for leave to amend the complaint that is currently before the Court. (Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 26).

DISCUSSION

1. Motion to Dismiss

The Government moves to dismiss Petitioners' complaint on the ground that this case is moot and no longer presents a justiciable case or controversy. (Mot. to Dismiss 1, ECF No. 12). According to the Government, USCIS adjudicated and denied Petitioners naturalization applications on October 29, 2012 and thus ...


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