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Odiye v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 18, 2015



JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 6. Plaintiff Debbie Bevlyn Odiye has not opposed the motion. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.


On September 30, 2014, Plaintiff Debbie Bevlyn Odiye filed a Petition to Correct Her Certificate of Naturalization. ECF No. 1. In her petition, Odiye requests that the Court correct her birth date on her Certificate of Naturalization. Id. at 3. She explains that when she became a citizen, she believed that her date of birth was March 3, 1957, but that she has since discovered that her date of birth is in fact March 3, 1953. Id. at 3-4. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") denied her request to replace her Certificate of Naturalization on July 24, 2013. Odiye Decl. Ex. E, ECF No. 2-4 at 16. She seeks an order requiring USCIS to correct her Certificate of Naturalization to reflect her true date of birth. Id. at 7.

On October 2, 2014, the Court issued an order directing Odiye to serve a copy of her petition on USCIS. ECF No. 3. USCIS filed its motion to dismiss on November 21, 2014. ECF No. 6. USCIS argues that because the Court did not issue Odiye's naturalization certificate, the Court lacks jurisdiction to directly amend it. Id. at 6. To the extent that Odiye challenges USCIS's denial of her application to amend her naturalization certificate, USCIS argues that she has failed to state a cognizable claim under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"). Id. at 12. Odiye did not file a response to the motion. USCIS filed a reply on December 12, 2014. ECF No. 8.


A. Dismissal Under Rule 12(b)(1)

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). "If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). A defendant may raise the defense of lack of subject matter jurisdiction by motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). The plaintiff always bears the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377.

B. Dismissal Under Rule 12(b)(6)

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, the petition "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). When deciding such a motion, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the petition as true. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).


A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

In 1990, Congress transferred the authority to order certificates of naturalization from the judiciary to the executive branch, effective October 1, 1991. See Immigration Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-649 § 401(a), 104 Stat. 5046 (1990) (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1421(a)) ("The sole authority to naturalize persons as citizens of the United States is conferred upon the Attorney General."). Courts retain jurisdiction to amend judicial naturalization certificates issued before October 1, 1991. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 60; Matter of Shrewsbury, 77 F.3d 490, No. 94-16736, 1996 WL 64988, at *1 (9th Cir. Feb. 12, 1996) (unpublished); McKenzie v. USCIS, Dist. Dir., 761 F.3d 1149, 1152, 1156 (10th Cir. 2014). But no statute authorizes courts to amend naturalization certificates issued by the executive branch on or after October 1, 1991. See McKenzie, 761 F.3d at 1156 ("[W]hen Congress ended the jurisdiction of district courts to naturalize aliens, it necessarily ended the jurisdiction to exercise powers derivative of the power to naturalize, including the power... to modify naturalization documents").

In her petition, Odiye contends that the Court has jurisdiction to amend her Certificate of Naturalization, which was issued by USCIS on October 20, 2011, [1] pursuant to chapter eight of the Code of Federal Regulations, sections 334.16 and 338.5. ECF No. 1 at 1, 4. Section 338.5, the current regulation governing correction of naturalization certificates, states that "[i]f the certificate was originally issued by USCIS (or its predecessor agency), ...

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