760 F.3d 490 (6th Cir. 2014), 13-4192, Jama v. Department of Homeland Security

Docket Nº:13-4192
Citation:760 F.3d 490
Opinion Judge:CLAY, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:LIBAN MUSE JAMA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, et al., Defendants-Appellees
Attorney:Brian J. Halliday, THE LAW OFFICES OF BRIAN J. HALLIDAY, Beachwood, Ohio, for Appellant. Erez Reuveni, OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION LITIGATION, Washington, D.C., for Appellees. Brian J. Halliday, THE LAW OFFICES OF BRIAN J. HALLIDAY, Beachwood, Ohio, for Appellant. Erez Reuveni, OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION LI...
Judge Panel:Before: NORRIS, CLAY, and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 25, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 490

760 F.3d 490 (6th Cir. 2014)

LIBAN MUSE JAMA, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, et al., Defendants-Appellees

No. 13-4192

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 25, 2014

Argued May 7, 2014

Page 491

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 1:12-cv-02881-David D. Dowd, Jr., District Judge.

ARGUED:

Brian J. Halliday, THE LAW OFFICES OF BRIAN J. HALLIDAY, Beachwood, Ohio, for Appellant.

Erez Reuveni, OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION LITIGATION, Washington, D.C., for Appellees.

ON BRIEF:

Brian J. Halliday, THE LAW OFFICES OF BRIAN J. HALLIDAY, Beachwood, Ohio, for Appellant.

Erez Reuveni, OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION LITIGATION, Washington, D.C., for Appellees.

Mary Kenney, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION COUNCIL, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae.

Before: NORRIS, CLAY, and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 492

CLAY, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Liban Muse Jama appeals the district court's dismissal of his complaint seeking judicial review, under the Administrative Procedure Act (" APA" ), 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq. (2011), of certain actions by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (" USCIS" ), including USCIS's termination of Jama's refugee status. For the reasons that follow, we hold that termination of refugee status and denial of a status adjustment application are not " final agency actions" reviewable in district court under the APA, and AFFIRM the district court's dismissal of Jama's complaint on the basis of Jama's failure to state a claim under the APA.

BACKGROUND

Over ten years after Jama was admitted to the United States as a refugee based on his sworn statement that he was the minor child of a principal refugee, USCIS learned that Jama had made material factual misrepresentations in his application for refugee status. At the time of his admission to the United States, Jama was not, in fact, a legal minor or the biological child of the principal refugee. After providing Jama with notice and an opportunity to respond, USCIS terminated Jama's refugee status on the basis of his fraud, pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 207.9. USCIS also denied Jama's pending applications for status adjustment and fraud waiver. USCIS subsequently denied Jama's motion to reopen these decisions, and initiated removal proceedings against him, as required by the statute. See 8 C.F.R. § 207.9 (" Upon termination of refugee status, USCIS will process the alien under sections 235, 240, and 241 of the Act." ). The agency did not rule on Jama's pending application for asylum and for withholding of removal (Form I-589), which Jama had submitted to the USCIS Asylum Office prior to the termination decision.

On August 18, 2011, Jama was sent a notice to appear before an immigration judge (" IJ" ) on the removability charges. On that same date, USCIS also referred Jama's application for asylum to the IJ presiding over Jama's removal proceedings.

On June 14, 2012, the IJ held a merits hearing on the removability charges, and concluded that Jama was removable based on the charge that he did not possess a valid immigrant visa or entry document when he was admitted to the United States. As part of the removability analysis, the IJ considered whether or not Jama was admissible under INA § 207(c)(2)(A) at the time of his entry into the United States.1 The IJ concluded based on the evidence presented that Jama was not eligible for an entry document as a derivative beneficiary at the time of his entry into the United States, and found him removable on that basis. During this hearing, Jama attempted to argue that the termination of his refugee status was improper. The IJ dismissed Jama's argument that his refugee status was improperly terminated, explaining

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that USCIS's decision to terminate Jama's refugee status " is irrelevant . . . . [and] has no implications for whether [Jama] possessed a valid entry document at the time of his admission." [R. 28-1, IJ Order at 5.]

Jama filed a motion for reconsideration, which the IJ denied on August 8, 2012. In its order denying reconsideration, the IJ reiterated that the termination of Jama's refugee status was irrelevant to its inquiry, and explained that it lacked jurisdiction to review USCIS's decision to terminate refugee status, citing 8 C.F.R. § 207.9. That regulation provides that " [t]here is no appeal under this chapter I from the termination of refugee status by USCIS." 8 C.F.R. § 207.9. The IJ did not rule on Jama's asylum claims, which remain pending in immigration court as of the date of this writing.

On November 19, 2012, with his asylum claims still pending in immigration court, Jama filed the instant action in United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security, and other related individuals and entities (collectively, " Defendants" ). In his complaint, Jama asserted jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (the " federal question statute" ); 28 U.S.C. § 2201 (the " Declaratory Judgment Act" ); and 5 U.S.C. § 555 and § 701, et seq. (the " APA" ). He alleged, inter alia, unlawful termination of his refugee status, improper denial of his status adjustment application, and improper denial of his fraud waiver application. He sought a declaration that USCIS's actions were unlawful, and that he continues to be a derivative refugee.2

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, asserting lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The district court found that neither the Federal Question statute nor the Declaratory Judgment Act confers jurisdiction over Jama's complaint, and that the APA " is the only authority cited...

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