United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND
REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS; DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO
STAY RE: DKT. NOS. 22, 26, 31
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as
to the second cause of action in the First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”). Dkt. No. 22
(“Mot.”). Plaintiff Gloria Plascencia-De Haro
(“Plascencia”) opposed that motion, Dkt. No. 35
(“Opp.”) and Defendants filed a reply, Dkt. No.
36 (“Reply”). The Court held oral argument on the
motion on September 3, 2015, and further discussed the motion
with the parties on March 22, 2016. Having considered the
arguments made by the parties in their briefs and at oral
argument, the Court DENIES Defendants’ motion.
is a Mexican citizen who entered the United States in 1990
without inspection by an immigration officer. On March 18,
1994, Plascencia was the subject of a voluntary departure
order, which required her to depart the United States on or
before September 18, 1994. The voluntary departure order
provided that if Plascencia failed to depart by that date, a
deportation order would automatically come into effect.
parties dispute whether Plascencia departed the United States
in compliance with the 1994 order. Plascencia asserts that
she traveled to Mexico the day after it was issued and stayed
with her mother in Compostela, Nayarit for one month. She
alleges that she returned to the United States on April 19,
1994 after being waved through an official inspection point
without being asked to show any documentation. Defendants
assert that she never departed. According to Defendants, U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)
issued a warrant of deportation for Plascencia on April 19,
February 25, 2013, Plascencia completed a Form I-485
Application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent
resident. Plascencia was arrested on March 4, 2013 for
failure to depart as required by the 1994 voluntary departure
order. She was released from custody pursuant to an order of
supervision and testified under oath in support of her
application for adjustment of status on August 5, 2013. That
application was denied on December 2, 2013 on the ground that
Plascencia had failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of
the evidence that she had departed the United States in 1994.
Plascencia filed a motion to reopen and reconsider on
December 22, 2013, which was denied on May 20, 2014.
filed this action on July 4, 2014. On September 19, 2014,
USCIS reopened her application and immediately issued a
notice re-closing the application for lack of jurisdiction
given the pendency of alien in removal proceedings.
Plascencia filed the FAC on October 29, 2014 to reflect this
new administrative action. The remaining cause of action in
the FAC alleges that the USCIS’s administrative closure
of her application was arbitrary and capricious under the
Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C.
§ 701 et seq.
SCOPE OF REVIEW UNDER THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE
the APA, a district court can set aside agency decisions only
if the action is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of
discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” 5
U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). “The scope of our review under
this standard is ‘narrow’; as we have often
recognized, ‘a court is not to substitute its judgment
for that of the agency.’” Judulang v.
Holder, 132 S.Ct. 476, 483 (2011) (quoting Motor
Vehicle Mfrs. Ass'n of U.S., Inc. v. State Farm Mut.
Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983)). Nonetheless,
when reviewing an agency action a court “must assess,
among other matters, ‘whether the decision was based on
a consideration of the relevant factors and whether there has
been a clear error of judgment.’” Id. at
484 (quoting State Farm, 463 U.S. at 43).
“That task involves examining the reasons for agency
decisions-or, as the case may be, the absence of such
reasons.” Id. “Agency action should be
overturned only when the agency has ‘relied on factors
which Congress has not intended it to consider, entirely
failed to consider an important aspect of the problem,
offered an explanation for its decision that runs counter to
the evidence before the agency, or is so implausible that it
could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product
of agency expertise.’” Pac. Coast Fed’n
of Fishermen’s Ass’n, Inc. v. Nat’l Marine
Fisheries Serv., 265 F.3d 1028, 1034 (9th Cir. 2001)
(quoting State Farm, 463 U.S. at 43).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
routinely resolve APA challenges by summary judgment. Nw.
Motorcycle Ass’n v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., 18
F.3d 1468, 1481 (9th Cir. 1994). The district court “is
not required to resolve any facts in a review of an
administrative proceeding.” Occidental Eng’g
Co. v. I.N.S., 753 F.2d 766, 769 (9th Cir. 1985). The
purpose of the district court in deciding a motion for
summary judgment, then, “is to determine whether or not
as a matter of law the evidence in the administrative record
permitted the agency to make the decision it did.”
Id. An agency’s decision is arbitrary and
capricious if it “offered an explanation for its
decision that runs counter to the evidence before the agency,
or is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a
difference in view or the product of agency expertise.”
Sw. Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Forest
Serv., 100 F.3d 1443, 1448 (9th Cir. 1996).
agency’s findings are reviewed under the
“substantial evidence” standard. Family Inc.
v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 469 F.3d
1313, 1315 (9th Cir. 2006). Under this standard, a court will
not disturb an agency’s findings “unless the
evidence presented would compel a reasonable finder of fact
to reach a contrary result.” Monjaraz-Munoz v.
I.N.S., 327 F.3d 892, 895 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation
argue that the USCIS decision finding that it lacked
jurisdiction to act on Plascencia’s I-485 Form is
sufficiently detailed to satisfy the requirements of both the
APA and applicable regulations. See 5 U.S.C. §
555(e) (requiring “a brief statement of the grounds for
denial”); 8 C.F.R. § 103.3 (“When a Service
officer denies an application or petition filed ...