Farrell v. Tillerson, Civil Action No. 17–490 (RBW)

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtREGGIE B. WALTON, United States District Judge
Citation315 F.Supp.3d 47
Parties Gerald Lee FARRELL, Plaintiff, v. Rex W. TILLERSON, in his official capacity as Secretary of State of the United States, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 17–490 (RBW)
Decision Date16 April 2018

315 F.Supp.3d 47

Gerald Lee FARRELL, Plaintiff,
v.
Rex W. TILLERSON, in his official capacity as Secretary of State of the United States, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 17–490 (RBW)

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Signed April 16, 2018


315 F.Supp.3d 51

Gerald Lee Farrell, Big Spring, TX, pro se.

Walter Manning Evans, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

REGGIE B. WALTON, United States District Judge

315 F.Supp.3d 52

The pro se plaintiff, Gerald Lee Farrell, brings this civil action against the defendants, Rex W. Tillerson, the Secretary of the United States Department of State (the "Secretary") and Corrin Ferber, Director of the Office of Legal Affairs, Bureau of Consular Affairs of the United States Department of State ("the Department"), alleging that the defendants' denial of his request for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality violated the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 – 1537 (2012), 18 U.S.C. § 1429 (2012), and the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701 – 706 (2012). See generally Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl."). Currently before the Court is the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot."), which seeks dismissal of the plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ; the Defendants' Motion for Relief from Local Civil Rule 7(n) ("Defs.' Rule 7(n) Mot."); and the plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pl.'s Mot."). Upon consideration of the parties' submissions,1 the Court concludes that it must deny the defendants' motion to dismiss, deny as moot the defendants' motion for relief from Local Civil Rule 7(n), and order the defendant to respond to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Statutory and Regulatory Framework

Section 349 of the INA provides that "a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any [one] of [seven] acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality." 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a). These acts are codified as subsections (a)(1) through (a)(7) of 8 U.S.C. § 1481. With regards to subsections (a)(1) through (a)(5), the statute provides that "no national of the United States can lose United States nationality ... while within the United States ...." Id. § 1483(a). At issue in this case is subsection (a)(1), which provides that an individual "shall lose his nationality by voluntarily ... [, and] with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality[,] ... obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application or upon an application filed by a duly authorized agent, after having attained the age of eighteen years." 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a)(1).2 Under the INA,

[w]henever a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States has reason to believe that a person while in a foreign state has lost his United States nationality under [ 8 U.S.C. § 1481 ] ..., he shall certify the facts upon which such belief is based to the Department ..., in writing, under regulations prescribed by the Secretary[.] If the report of the diplomatic or consular officer is approved by the Secretary ..., the diplomatic or consular
315 F.Supp.3d 53
office in which the report was made shall be directed to forward a copy of the certificate to the person to whom it relates. Approval by the Secretary ... of a certificate ... shall constitute a final administrative determination of loss of United States nationality[.]

8 U.S.C. § 1501. The certificate to which the statute refers is known as a "Certificate of Loss of Nationality." See, e.g., 7 Foreign Affairs Manual 1227(a) (instructing consular officers to prepare a "Certificate of Loss of Nationality" when they "have reason to believe that [an] individual has committed an expatriating act voluntarily and with the intention of relinquishing U.S. nationality"); see also Weber v. U.S. Dep't of State, 885 F.Supp.2d 46, 50 (D.D.C. 2012) (referring to the "certificate" described in § 1501 as a Certificate of Loss of Nationality).

The Secretary is responsible for administering and enforcing loss of nationality under subsections (a)(1) through (a)(5). See Defs.' Mem. at 4; see also 8 U.S.C. § 1104(a) ("The Secretary ... [is] charged with the administration and the enforcement of ... the powers, duties, and functions of diplomatic and consular officers of the United States, ... and [ ] the determination of nationality of a person not in the United States."). In connection with these duties, the Secretary has promulgated various regulations, including 22 C.F.R. § 50.40, which provides that the Secretary will "presume[ ]" that a citizen who obtains naturalization in a foreign state pursuant to subsection (a)(1) "inten[ds] to retain [United States] citizenship"; however, if that citizen "affirmatively asserts to a consular officer, after he or she has committed [the] potentially expatriating act, that it was his ... intent to relinquish [United States] citizenship," then the presumption is rebutted and the citizen "will lose his ... citizenship." 22 C.F.R. § 50.40(a) (2017).

The Secretary has also provided specific guidance to consular officers regarding the administration of loss of nationality claims in his Foreign Affairs Manual (the "Manual" or "FAM"). Relevant to subsection (a)(1), the Manual provides that if consular officers considering a claim brought under subsection (a)(1) "become aware [that] a citizen acquired foreign nationality [a]nd[ ] the citizen asserts or advises [them] ... that [his] intent was to relinquish [United States] citizenship," then "[t]he administrative presumption of intention to retain [United States] nationality is inapplicable[ a]nd[ ] it is necessary to develop the case and assess [the] voluntariness and intent." 7 FAM 1221, Exhibit ("Ex.") 1 (Loss-of-Nationality Flow Chart ("Flow Chart") ). In this situation, the Manual instructs a consular officer to send a letter to the citizen that "[p]rovide[s] [him with a copy of] ... Form DS–4079, Questionnaire: Information for Determining Possible Loss of [United States] Citizenship," id., and requests that he "fill out ... and [ ] submit [the] form," 7 FAM 1224.3(2). The Manual also instructs a consular officer to "arrange to interview the citizen," 7 FAM 1221, Ex. 1 (Flow Chart), explaining that "it may be necessary to contact the [citizen] to discuss next steps and clarify any issues that arise in reviewing the responses to Form DS–4079," but that "[c]onsular officers can be flexible in determining whether this should include an in person, telephone, or e-mail contact," 7 FAM 1224.5. Finally, to prepare a Certificate of Loss of Nationality, the Manual instructs consular officers to assemble and submit a package containing, inter alia, Form DS–4079 and Form DS–4081, which is a "Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Relinquishment or Renunciation of [United States] Citizenship." 7 FAM 1227(a)(3)–(4). Both Forms DS–4079 and

315 F.Supp.3d 54

DS–4081 instruct citizens to sign the forms in the presence of a consular officer. See Form DS–4079: Request for Determination of Possible Loss of United States Citizenship, https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds4079.pdf (last visited Apr. 12, 2018) (instructing applicants to sign the form "before a [c]onsular [o]fficer at a [United States] Embassy or Consulate"); see also Form DS–4081: Statement of Understanding Concerning the Consequences and Ramifications of Renunciation or Relinquishment of U.S. Nationality, https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds4081.pdf (last visited Apr. 12, 2018) (requiring a "consular officer's attestation" that the citizen "appeared personally ... and signed th[e] statement ... before [the officer]").3

B. Factual and Procedural History

The plaintiff is a United States citizen by birth. See Am. Compl., Ex. 1 (Certificate of Live Birth); see also Defs.' Mem. at 8. However, he alleges that he "moved to Switzerland in ... [ ]1994[ ]," "married a Swiss citizen in 1996," and "obtain[ed] naturalization in Switzerland" in 2004. Am. Compl. at 5. In 2014, the plaintiff pleaded guilty in the United States to federal criminal charges and was sentenced to a ninety-six-month prison term. See Judgment at 1–2, United States v. Farrell, Crim. Action No. 4–180–BLW (D. Idaho June 25, 2014), ECF No. 48.4 The plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Big Spring, Texas. See Am. Compl. ¶ 14; see also Defs.' Mem. at 8.5

On May 31, 2016, the plaintiff sent a letter to then-United States Ambassador to Switzerland Susan LeVine, requesting that she issue him a Certificate of Loss of Nationality pursuant to § 1481(a)(1). See Am. Compl., Ex. 6 (Letter from Gerald Lee Farrell to the Honorable Susan LeVine, United States Ambassador to Switzerland (May 31, 2016) ("May 31, 2016 Letter") ) at 1.6 In the letter, he represented that he "became [a] Swiss [citizen] in 2004," having been issued a Swiss passport in that year, and that he did so "voluntarily and with the intent to irrevocably lose [his] United States citizenship." Id., Ex. 6 (May 31, 2016 Letter) at...

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  • City of Columbus v. Trump, Civil Action No. DKC 18-2364
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 10, 2020
    ...capriciously’ where ‘the [c]ourt does not have a complete administrative record.’ " (ECF No. 61, at 46 (quoting Farrell v. Tillerson , 315 F.Supp.3d 47, 69 (D.D.C. 2018) ). Defendants respond that the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM"), the comments responding to the NPRM, and the Pream......
  • Chacoty v. Pompeo, Civil Action No. 14-764 (RDM)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • July 17, 2019
    ...v. Sessions , 899 F.3d 182, 187 n.4 (2d Cir. 2018) ; Scales v. INS , 232 F.3d 1159, 1165–66 (9th Cir. 2000) ; Farrell v. Tillerson , 315 F. Supp. 3d 47, 67 (D.D.C. 2018) ; cf. Miller v. Clinton , 687 F.3d 1332, 1341 n.9 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (reserving decision on whether the FAM warrants judici......
  • Farrell v. Blinken, No. 19-5357
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 13, 2021
    ...November 2016 letter to Farrell and the February 2017 letter to Farrell as constituting final agency action. See Farrell v. Tillerson , 315 F. Supp. 3d 47, 59–64 (D.D.C. 2018). The parties do not challenge that holding here, and finality is not a jurisdictional matter under the APA that we ......
  • Gulf Restoration Network v. Bernhardt, Civil Action No. 18-1674 (RBW)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 21, 2020
    ...published on the GAO's website, as the administrative record contains only excerpted portions of the report. See Farrell v. Tillerson, 315 F. Supp. 3d 47, 54 n.3 (D.D.C. 2018) (Walton, J.) ("[C]ourts in this jurisdiction have frequently taken judicial notice of information posted on officia......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • City of Columbus v. Trump, Civil Action No. DKC 18-2364
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • April 10, 2020
    ...capriciously’ where ‘the [c]ourt does not have a complete administrative record.’ " (ECF No. 61, at 46 (quoting Farrell v. Tillerson , 315 F.Supp.3d 47, 69 (D.D.C. 2018) ). Defendants respond that the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM"), the comments responding to the NPRM, and the Pream......
  • Chacoty v. Pompeo, Civil Action No. 14-764 (RDM)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • July 17, 2019
    ...v. Sessions , 899 F.3d 182, 187 n.4 (2d Cir. 2018) ; Scales v. INS , 232 F.3d 1159, 1165–66 (9th Cir. 2000) ; Farrell v. Tillerson , 315 F. Supp. 3d 47, 67 (D.D.C. 2018) ; cf. Miller v. Clinton , 687 F.3d 1332, 1341 n.9 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (reserving decision on whether the FAM warrants judici......
  • Farrell v. Blinken, No. 19-5357
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 13, 2021
    ...November 2016 letter to Farrell and the February 2017 letter to Farrell as constituting final agency action. See Farrell v. Tillerson , 315 F. Supp. 3d 47, 59–64 (D.D.C. 2018). The parties do not challenge that holding here, and finality is not a jurisdictional matter under the APA that we ......
  • Gulf Restoration Network v. Bernhardt, Civil Action No. 18-1674 (RBW)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 21, 2020
    ...published on the GAO's website, as the administrative record contains only excerpted portions of the report. See Farrell v. Tillerson, 315 F. Supp. 3d 47, 54 n.3 (D.D.C. 2018) (Walton, J.) ("[C]ourts in this jurisdiction have frequently taken judicial notice of information posted on officia......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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