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Ahmed v. Holder

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

August 27, 2013


OPINION & ORDER [Resolving Docs. 17, 18]

JAMES S. GWIN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ali Shire Ahmed is a Somali national and a legal permanent resident of the United States. He filed an application for naturalization with Citizenship and Immigration Services. Fifteen months later, he still has not been given an interview. Without an interview, his application sits unadjudicated. He sues Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, and District Deputy Director Mark Hansen.

Plaintiff sues under the Administrative Procedure Act and seeks a mandamus order requiring Defendants to complete any outstanding background checks and to schedule him for an interview. Both sides have moved for summary judgment.

For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiff Ahmed's motion for summary judgment and GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Defendants Holder and Mueller are dismissed from this action. Defendants Napolitano, Mayorkas, and Hansen must conduct an in-person interview of Ahmed concerning his naturalization application within 120 days.[1]

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Ahmed is a citizen of Somalia and a legal permanent resident of the United States.[2] On April 24, 2012, he applied for naturalization.[3] On May 21, 2012, he reported to the Citizenship and Immigration Services ("CIS" or "Immigration Services") office in Cleveland for fingerprinting.[4] On September 14, 2012, and on December 20, 2012, he was fingerprinted again because his prior fingerprints had expired.[5] On March 20, 2014, his most recent fingerprints will expire.[6] He has fulfilled everything he can do to process his application.

On September 6, 2012, the Immigration Services scheduled a naturalization interview for October 15, 2012.[7] But on October 5, 2012, the Immigration Services cancelled the interview and told Ahmed that the Immigration Services would inform him of any future action or rescheduling of the interview.[8] Near February 2013, authorities executed a search warrant at Ahmed's residence and his taxi cab.[9]

The Immigration Services still has not interviewed Ahmed. Rather, the Immigration Services claims that Ahmed's background check is not complete.[10] The Immigration Services does not say what is missing. CIS has conducted and received results from a fingerprint check, an Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) report, and an FBI name check, but those reports often require updating.[11]

On February 7, 2013, Ahmed filed a lawsuit. With the lawsuit, he seeks an order under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requiring Defendants to schedule an interview to continue the adjudication of his naturalization application.[12]

Defendants filed an answer and a motion to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6).[13] In their argument, the Defendants say that the complaint does not fall under 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b)'s grant of jurisdiction.[14] They also say that there has been no final agency action to trigger the Court's jurisdiction under the APA and that the action is committed to agency discretion.[15] Finally, Defendants say that they are not legally required to perform the background investigation or schedule Ahmed's interview.[16]

Responding, Ahmed says that § 1447(b) does not bar the Court's jurisdiction because Ahmed has not had an interview.[17] He also says that the APA allows suits where a failure to act is alleged and the duty to act is not committed to agency discretion.[18] And Ahmed says that the defendants are under a mandatory obligation to adjudicate applications within a reasonable amount of time.[19]

This Court ordered the parties to file a list of stipulated facts and briefs concerning the court's jurisdiction and the merits for summary disposition.[20] On July 12, 2013, the parties filed their stipulations of matters not in dispute.[21] The parties then filed their respective positions.

Although most of the arguments on summary judgment are the same as those made in Defendants' motion to dismiss, Defendants now also say that any delay in scheduling Ahmed's interview is reasonable because he is under investigation for criminal activity.[22] In response to this argument, Ahmed says that he has not had any contact with law ...

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