United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
an action for declaratory relief in which Plaintiff Veronica
Corona Ayala (“Ayala”) petitions for de
novo review of the denial by Defendants United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)
et al. (“Defendants”) of her Application
for Naturalization Services and Request for Hearing pursuant
to 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c). Currently before the Court is
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Motion”). For the reasons that follow,
Defendants' Motion will be granted.
judgment is proper when it is demonstrated that there exists
no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co.,
398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); Fortyune v. American
Multi-Cinema, Inc., 364 F.3d 1075, 1080 (9th Cir. 2004).
The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden
of informing the court of the basis for its motion and of
identifying the portions of the declarations (if any),
pleadings, and discovery that demonstrate an absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d
265 (1986); Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509
F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). A fact is
“material” if it might affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law. See Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); United
States v. Kapp, 564 F.3d 1103, 1114 (9th Cir. 2009). A
dispute is “genuine” as to a material fact if
there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return
a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248; Freecycle Sunnyvale v. Freecycle
Network, 626 F.3d 509, 514 (9th Cir. 2010).
the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at
trial, the movant must affirmatively demonstrate that no
reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the
movant. Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984. Where the
non-moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at
trial, the movant may prevail by presenting evidence that
negates an essential element of the non-moving party's
claim or by merely pointing out that there is an absence of
evidence to support an essential element of the non-moving
party's claim. See James River Ins. Co. v. Herbert
Schenk, P.C., 523 F.3d 915, 923 (9th Cir. 2008);
Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984. If a moving party fails
to carry its burden of production, then “the non-moving
party has no obligation to produce anything, even if the
non-moving party would have the ultimate burden of
persuasion.” Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v.
Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1105-06 (9th Cir. 2000). If
the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden then
shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine
issue as to any material fact actually exists. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Nissan Fire, 210 F.3d at 1103.
The opposing party cannot “‘rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of [its] pleading' but must
instead produce evidence that ‘sets forth specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'” Estate of Tucker v. Interscope
Records, 515 F.3d 1019, 1030 (9th Cir. 2008).
opposing party's evidence is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences that may be drawn from the facts
placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the
opposing party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255;
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587; Narayan v. EGL,
Inc., 616 F.3d 895, 899 (9th Cir. 2010). While a
“justifiable inference” need not be the most
likely or the most persuasive inference, a "justifiable
inference" must still be rational or reasonable. See
Narayan, 616 F.3d at 899. Summary judgment may not be
granted “where divergent ultimate inferences may
reasonably be drawn from the undisputed facts.”
Fresno Motors, LLC v. Mercedes Benz USA, LLC, 771
F.3d 1119, 1125 (9th Cir. 2015). If the nonmoving party fails
to produce evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of
material fact, the moving party is entitled to summary
judgment. Nissan Fire, 210 F.3d at 1103.
is the holder of a green card who seeks to naturalize. JSUF
1. Ayala obtained her lawful permanent resident
(“LPR”) status as the result of a family petition
filed by her then-LPR father. JSUF 2. Specifically,
Ayala's father filed an I-130 visa petition on behalf of
his spouse, Margarita Corona Ayala, who in turn listed Ayala
as her child, thereby making Ayala eligible for derivative
classification. JSUF 2. The Department of State allocated to
Ayala an immigrant visa number under 8 U.S.C. §
1153(a)(2) and (d), as the child or a beneficiary of a form
I-130 filed by an LPR. Approval of the form I-130 was
essential to Ayala's eligibility. JSUF 3.
filing the petition, Ayala's father was convicted of
possession of heroin for sale and placed in removal
proceedings. JSUF 4. An immigration judge found Ayala's
father removable, and though he appealed the decision, the
appeal was dismissed for abandonment. JSUF 5. Ayala's
father's removal order became final in 2000, and his LPR
status terminated at that same time. JSUF 6.
years later, in 2002, Ayala applied for and received LPR
status. JSUF 7. This grant of LPR status was based on an
error by USCIS, because the father's petition on behalf
of the mother was automatically revoked prior to Ayala's
application. JSUF 8. When her father's LPR status
terminated, the form I-130 he had filed was also revoked by
operation of law. JSUF 8. An additional error by USCIS in
granting Ayala's LPR application was in the I-864
Affidavit of Support filed by her father. JSUF 9. Because he
was no longer in valid LPR status himself, he no longer met
the criteria for filing an affidavit of support for a
family-based petition. JSUF 9.
2004, USCIS recognized the error in granting Ayala's LPR
application and issued a Notice of Intent to Rescind
(“Notice”). JSUF 10. Ayala received USCIS's
Notice and responded. JSUF 10. However, USCIS did not then
refer Ayala to an immigration judge for a hearing as required
by 8 C.F.R. § 246.3. JSUF 10. The five-year statutory
window for rescinding Ayala's LPR status has now passed.
JSUF 10. Ayala remains a lawful permanent resident. JSUF 10.
USCIS is not challenging Ayala's LPR status in any forum.
2015, Ayala applied for naturalization. JSUF 11. USCIS denied
the application that same year, stating its position that the
requirement of having been lawfully admitted for permanent
residence has not been met. JSUF 11. Ayala filed an
administrative appeal, and USCIS issued a written decision.
JSUF 12. USCIS affirmed its decision that because Ayala was
not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, she is
ineligible for naturalization. JSUF 12.
9, 2016, Ayala filed a petition for de novo review
on the denial of her application for naturalization and
request for a hearing. Doc. No. 1. Thereafter, Defendants
filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(B)(6). Doc.
No. 10. On October 19, 2016, this Court denied
Defendants' motion to dismiss. Doc. No. 16. On April 25,
2017, Defendants filed the pending motion for summary
judgment. Doc. No. 23. After full briefing, the Court allowed
the parties to each file a sur-reply. Doc. No. 27.