United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT; AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' CROSS-MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT DOCKET NOS. 28, 30
M. CHEN, United States District Judge.
Nos. 28, 30 Plaintiff Khalil Janjua has filed suit against
various federal government entities and employees (all
individuals have been sued in their official capacities). His
basic contention is that the United States Citizenship and
Immigration Service (“USCIS”) improperly denied
his application for adjustment of status, i.e., from
refugee to lawful permanent resident (“LPR”).
Currently pending before the Court are the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment. The main issue for the
Court to decide is whether the federal government is
collaterally estopped from denying Mr. Janjua adjustment of
status on the ground that he previously engaged in terrorist
considered the parties' briefs and accompanying
submissions, as well as the oral argument of counsel, the
Court hereby DENIES Mr. Janjua's motion and GRANTS the
FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Asylum and Adjustment of Status of Refugees
discussing the factual and procedural background specific to
this case, the Court briefly provide some general legal
background that is relevant to the pending motions.
The statute generally applicable for asylum is 8 U.S.C.
§ 1158. Under § 1158, “[a]ny alien who is
physically present in the United States or who arrives in the
United States . . . may apply for asylum.” 8 U.S.C.
§ 1158(a). “The Secretary of Homeland Security or
the Attorney General may grant asylum . . . if [he or she]
determines that such alien is a refugee within the meaning of
section 101(a)(42)(A) [8 U.S.C. §
1101(a)(42)(A)].” Id. § 1158(b)(1)(A).
term 'refugee' means (A) any person who is outside
any country of such person's nationality . . . and who is
unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling
to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that
country because of persecution or a well-founded fear or
persecution on account of race, religion, nationality,
membership in a particular social group, or political
opinion.” Id. § 1101(a)(42(A).
alien, however, is generally not eligible for asylum if he or
she has engaged in terrorist activity as defined by 8 U.S.C.
§ 1182. See Id. § 1158(b)(2)(A)(v)
(referring to an “alien described in subclause (I),
(II), (III), (IV), or (VI) of section 212(a)(3)(B)(i) [8
U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)(i)]”); id.
§1182(a)(3)(B)(i) (addressing aliens inadmissible on the
basis of terrorist activities). Engaging in terrorist
activity includes soliciting funds or other things of value
for a terrorist organization and affording material support
to a terrorist organization. See Id. §
of status of refugees.
statute generally applicable for adjustment of status of
refugees is 8 U.S.C. § 1159. Under § 1159, a
refugee may have his or her status adjusted to a LPR if he or
she “has been physically present in the United States
for at least one year after being granted asylum, ”
“continues to be a refugee, ” and “is
admissible . . . as an immigrant under this Act at the time
of examination for adjustment of such alien.”
Id. § 1159(b). Based on the last factor, §
1182 - which governs inadmissibility for aliens - comes into
play and, as indicated above, an alien is not admissible if
he or she has engaged in terrorist activity. See Id.
“both 8 U.S.C. § 1158 (the statute governing
petitions for asylum) and 8 U.S.C. § 1159 (the statute
governing petitions for permanent resident status), look to 8
U.S.C. § 1182 (the statute governing inadmissible
aliens) to determine whether an alien is eligible for
relief.” Amrollah v. Napolitano, 710 F.3d 568,
571 (5th Cir. 2013).
Mr. Janjua's Applications for Asylum and Adjustment
addressed the general legal background, the Court now turns
to the specific factual and procedural background in the case
Janjua is a native and citizen of Pakistan. See CAR
555 (application for asylum). He applied for asylum in the
United States in or about November 1999. See CAR 554
(acknowledgment of receipt of application). In a statement in
support of his application, Mr. Janjua explained that he was
seeking asylum because his “life was in danger in [his]
home country Pakistan, ” more specifically, as a result
of his status as a “Muhajir” and his membership
and participation in an organization known as the Muhajir
Qaumi Movement (“MQM”). See CAR 564
(attachment to asylum application) (indicating that Muhajir
status relates to a person's or relative's
immigrating to Pakistan from India).
January 2000, the agency then-known as the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (“INS”) rejected Mr.
Janjua's application for asylum, stating that he had
“not demonstrated with clear and convincing evidence
that [his] application was filed within one year of [his]
last arrival.” CAR 547 (rejection notice). INS then
initiated removal proceedings against him, asserting that Mr.
Janjua was “an alien present in the United States who
has not been admitted or paroled.” CAR 544 (notice to
appear). In response, Mr. Janjua asked for relief from
removal based on, inter alia, asylum. See
CAR 440 (application for asylum and/or withholding of
removal). In September 2000, an immigration judge denied his
request for relief. See AR 421 (IJ order).
Janjua subsequently appealed the immigration judge's
order to the Board of Immigration Appeals
(“BIA”), asserting that “there exists a
clear probability of persecution on the basis of [his]
ethnicity and political opinion should he be forced to return
[to Pakistan].” CAR 218 (Mr. Janjua's appellate
brief). In July 2003, the BIA remanded the case to the
immigration court “for further consideration of the
credibility of [Mr. Janjua's] claim.” CAR 209 (BIA
order). In April 2007, an immigration judge granted Mr.
Janjua's asylum application. See CAR 53-53
(letter and IJ order).
December 2008, Mr. Janjua filed an application to adjust his
status to a LPR. See CAR 31, 36 (application to
register permanent residence or adjust status). Because USCIS
did not render a decision on his application, Mr. Janjua
initiated the instant action in November 2015. See
Docket No. 1 (complaint). In January 2016, USCIS contacted
Mr. Janjua and asked him to submit evidence in support of his
application. See CAR 25 (request for evidence).
After Mr. Janjua responded, see CAR 27-28 (response
to request for evidence), USCIS issued a notice of intent to
deny in June 2016. See CAR 21 (notice of intent to
deny). Thereafter, in August 2016, USCIS issued a formal
decision, denying adjustment of status. See CAR 1
(decision). USCIS stated in relevant part:
[Y]ou are inadmissible under INA section 212(a)(3)(B)(i)(I)
for having engaged in terrorist activities as defined by
section 212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI)(dd) for the voluntary provision
of material support to an undesignated terrorist organization
when you distributed flyers, organized meetings and rallies,
hung posters, provided tent service for the MQM and the
MQM(A) and started a new MQM office. You are also
inadmissible under INA section 212(a)(3)(B)(i)(I) as defined
by section 212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(IV)(cc) for soliciting funds or
other things of value when you collected donations for the
CAR 3. In response to Mr. Janjua's “contention]
that USCIS is collaterally estopped from finding [him]
inadmissible for terrorist-related activities because the
issue was previously litigated when [he was] granted asylum,
” USCIS disagreed, stating as follows:
Your grant of asylum in 2007 and the current adjudication of
your Application to Adjust Status are separate decisions. In
order to adjust status under INA section 209(b), you must be
admissible at the time of examination for adjustment of
status. The decision on your Application to Adjust Status is
not bound by the decision on a prior benefit adjudication.
Janjua then amended his complaint to challenge the above
ruling by USCIS. See Docket No. 17 (first amended
complaint (“FAC”)). According to Mr. Janjua, the
USCIS decision should be set aside because it “is
arbitrary, capricious, wholly unsupported by substantial
evidence, and otherwise not in accordance with law.”
FAC ¶ 1 (citing the Administrative Procedure Act
(“APA”)); see also 5 U.S.C. §
Summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Where the district court
reviews an administrative action pursuant to the APA, summary
judgment is an appropriate mechanism for deciding the purely
legal question of whether the agency could ...