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Parveen v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 13, 2018

IQBAL PARVEEN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MARK J. DINSMORE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendant United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' (“USCIS”) Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 7], Plaintiff's First Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [Dkt. 17], and Plaintiff's Second Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [Dkt. 18]. On February 16, 2018, District Judge Sarah Evans Barker designated the undersigned Magistrate Judge to issue a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). [Dkt. 25.] For the reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends USCIS's Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED. The Magistrate Judge further recommends Plaintiff's First Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint be DENIED AS MOOT, and Plaintiff's Second Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint be DENIED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff was naturalized as a United States citizen on July 2, 2004. [Dkt. 1 at 1.] USCIS issued Plaintiff a naturalization certificate showing that her date of birth was November 25, 1954. [Id.] Plaintiff concedes that this was not a clerical error. [Id.] Rather, Plaintiff alleges that she provided USCIS incorrect information regarding her date of birth during the naturalization process and that her correct date of birth was November 25, 1952. [Dkt. 1 at 1-2.] Plaintiff has not filed an Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Document (Form N-565) with USCIS. Plaintiff opines that the effort would be “futile” because “[t]he instructions to Form N-565 clearly state that ‘USCIS cannot make any changes to an incorrect date of birth on a Naturalization Certificate if [Plaintiff] reported an incorrect date on [her] Form N-400, Application for Naturalization ….'” [Dkt. 24 at 2.]

         Plaintiff now asks this Court to order USCIS to issue her an amended certificate of naturalization with the November 25, 1952 birthday. [Dkt. 1.] In response to Plaintiff's Complaint, USCIS filed its Motion to Dismiss, arguing that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action and that Plaintiff failed to identify a waiver of sovereign immunity subjecting USCIS to suit. [Dkt. 7.] Plaintiff filed her First and Second Motions for Leave to File Amended Complaint to address USCIS's position on jurisdiction and sovereign immunity. [Dkt. 17; Dkt. 18.]

         II. Discussion

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         As courts of limited jurisdiction, federal courts “possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute … which is not to be expanded by judicial decree.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Therefore, this Court cannot even consider the merits of a case unless it first determines that it has subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. Sutton v. Napolitano, 986 F.Supp.2d 948, 953 (W.D. Wis. 2013). A plaintiff has the burden of demonstrating that this Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). When deciding a 12(b)(1) motion, this Court must “accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Evers v. Astrue, 536 F.3d 651, 656 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Plaintiff argues that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which provides that, “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treatises of the United States.” This argument is without merit.

         Until 1991, courts had “[e]xclusive jurisdiction to naturalize persons as citizens of the United States.” 8 U.S.C. § 1421(a) (1988). A citizen who was naturalized by a court “[was] entitled upon such admission to receive from the clerk of such court a certificate of naturalization.” 8 U.S.C. § 1449 (1988). Courts also had authority to “correct, reopen, alter, modify, or vacate [a] judgment or decree naturalizing such persons.” 8 U.S.C. § 1451(i) (1988). However, in the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress transferred “[t]he sole authority to naturalize persons as citizens of the United States” from the courts to the executive branch, specifically the Attorney General, effective October 1, 1991. 8 U.S.C. § 1421(a). As a result of this legislation, “the federal courts effectively lost jurisdiction over naturalization proceedings.” Teng v. USCIS, 820 F.3d 1106, 1109 (9th Cir. 2016).

         Today, the “sole authority to naturalize persons as citizens of the United States is conferred upon the Attorney General, ” not the courts. 8 U.S.C. § 1421(a).[1] In addition, the power to “correct, reopen, alter, modify, or vacate an order naturalizing” a person was shifted from the federal courts to the Attorney General. Compare8 U.S.C. § 1451(i) (1988) with8 U.S.C. § 1451(h). Courts retain the limited power to “correct, reopen, alter, modify, or vacate” an order naturalizing persons who filed for naturalization before October 1, 1991. Ampadu v. USCIS, 944 F.Supp.2d 648, 653-56 (C.D. Ill. 2013); McKenzie v. USCIS, 761 F.3d 1149, 1156 (10th Cir. 2014) (“[T]he predicate for [federal courts'] authority to correct or modify naturalization documents was eliminated by the removal of jurisdiction to enter naturalization judgments (except, of course, for those persons who had filed for naturalization before October 1, 1991).”).

         Here, Plaintiff failed to satisfy her burden of demonstrating that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Under § 1331, this Court “shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treatises of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. However, “[n]othing in the Immigration Act of 1990 grants [this Court] jurisdiction to amend an agency-issued certificate of naturalization or to order USCIS to do so.” Teng, 820 F.3d at 1110. Instead, the Act gives the Attorney General the exclusive power to change agency-issued naturalization certificates. Id.; see also McKenzie, 761 F.3d at 1156 (“In our view, when Congress ended the jurisdiction of district courts to naturalized aliens, it necessarily ended the jurisdiction to exercise powers derivative of the power to naturalize, including the power … to modify naturalization documents.”). Plaintiff was naturalized as a United States citizen on July 2, 2004. [Dkt. 1 at 1.] USCIS issued Plaintiff a naturalization certificate showing that her date of birth was November 25, 1954. [Id.] Thus, pursuant to the Immigration Act of 1990, this Court cannot amend Plaintiff's USCIS-issued naturalization certificate nor order USCIS to do so.

         Accordingly, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter. To support its Motion to Dismiss, USCIS further argues that Plaintiff failed to identify a waiver of sovereign immunity subjecting USCIS to suit. This Court does not need to address this issue because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the matter in the first place.

         B. Motions for Leave to ...


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