United States District Court, S.D. California
ALAN ANGELES, et al. Plaintiffs,
JEH C. JOHNSON, Secretary of Homeland Security, et al. Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS
BARRY TED MOSKOWITZ, Chief District Judge.
Plaintiffs Alan Angeles and Nataly Angeles are Mexican citizens residing within this Court's jurisdiction (Am. Compl. ¶ 1). They have both filed applications for adjustment of status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), which were denied (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-11). Plaintiffs contend that Defendants' denial of their applications is arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful, and seek a ruling from this Court that they are, in fact, eligible for adjustment of status as derivative beneficiaries of the Form I-130 application filed by their grandfather on behalf of their father in 1977 pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i) and § 1154(1) (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 29, 31). Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Plaintiffs' grandfather, Luis Herrera Angeles, registered to immigrate to the United States under the then existing Western Hemisphere Program ("WHP") at the beginning of October, 1976 (Am. Compl. ¶ 14). Luis entered the United States as an immigrant on October 5, 1976 (Id. at ¶ 15). On January 1, 1977, the WHP ended and was replaced with a preference system (Id. at ¶ 16). On or about June 10, 1977, Luis filed a Form I-130 to allow Plaintiffs' father, Demetrio, to immigrate (Id. at ¶ 15).
On August 27, 1977, Luis's Form I-130 for Demetrio was approved and Demetrio was assigned to category "P2-2, " the preference designation for an unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident under the preference system that replaced the WHP (Am. Compl. ¶ 18; Doc 13-2, Motion to Dismiss, Exhibit B). On February 15, 1978, Demetrio entered the United States as a lawful permanent resident (Am. Compl. ¶ 19). However, Demetrio's Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration form was not marked as "P2-2, " but rather as "SA-1, " the designation for individuals immigrating under the old WHP (Am. Comp. ¶ 19; Doc. 13-2, Motion to Dismiss, Exhibit C).
Plaintiff Alan Angeles filed a Form I-485 application to adjust his residency status on September 19, 2011. Plaintiff Nataly Angeles filed the same form application on May 24, 2012. Both applications sought adjustment of status as derivative beneficiaries of the Form I-130 application filed by their grandfather, Luis, on behalf of their father, Demetrio. Defendants reviewed and denied these applications on May 31, 2012 and September 10, 2012, respectively (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-5). Defendants' denials explained that Plaintiffs were ineligible because Demetrio had used his Form I-130 to immigrate, and thus the form was unavailable for Plaintiffs to use to adjust their status under either 8 U.S.C. §1255(i) or 8 U.S.C. §1154(1).
Plaintiffs filed the present action on January 2, 2013, and shortly thereafter Defendants sent notice to Plaintiffs that they would reopen their applications (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8). On April 10, 2013, Defendants sent Plaintiffs notice of intent to deny the reopened application (Am. Compl. ¶ 9). Both notices stated that Plaintiffs were seeking to establish Western Hemisphere Priority Dates (Id.). Plaintiffs sent a timely response to Defendants, clarifying that they were not trying to establish Western Hemisphere Priority Dates, but were rather seeking benefits under 8 U.S.C. §1255(i) and 8 U.S.C. §1154(l) (Am. Compl. ¶ 10). On July 18, 2013, Defendants again denied Plaintiffs' I-485 applications for the same reason they had been previously denied (Doc. 13-2, Motion to Dismiss, Exhibit A).
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) provides for dismissal of complaints where the court "lack[s]... subject-matter jurisdiction." Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only that power authorized by Article III of the United States Constitution and statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto. See Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist. , 475 U.S. 534, 541(1986). Thus, "[f]ederal courts have no power to consider claims for which they lack subject-matter jurisdiction." Wang ex rel. United States v. FMC Corp. , 975 F.2d 1412, 1415 (9th Cir. 1992). "[T]he burden of establishing... [that a cause lies within this limited jurisdiction] rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America , 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of complaints which "fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In other words, "[a] Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of a claim." Navarro v. Block , 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the allegations of material fact in plaintiff's complaint are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington , 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal v. Ashcroft , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Evidence outside the complaint should not be considered in ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. See Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency , 261 F.3d 912, 925 (9th Cir. 2001). However, a document is not outside complaint, so as to require treatment of a motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment, "if the complaint specifically refers to the document and if its authenticity is not questioned." Branch v. Tunnell , 14 F.3d 449, 453 (9th Cir. 1994). Lastly, a court should not dismiss an action for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts to support a claim entitling him or her to relief. Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41, 45 (1957); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors , 266 F.3d 979, 988 (2001). Although detailed factual allegations are not required, factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
Defendants assert that Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint should be dismissed, both due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. The Court will consider each argument in turn.
A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Plaintiffs have invoked this Court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1361, Mandamus Act; 28 U.S.C. § 1651, the All Writs Act; 28 U.S.C. § 2201, Declaratory Judgment Act; and 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., ...