United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MICHELLE DARAGHMA. et al.. Plaintiffs.
U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, et al. Defendants.
AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Nugent United States District Judge
Court hereby issues an amended Memorandum Opinion pursuant lo
Rule 59(e) and 60(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
matter is before the Court upon a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by Plaintiffs, Michelle and Rami Daraghma
("Plaintiffs"). (ECF #30). Defendants. U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services, ("USCIS");
Leon Rodriquez. Director, USCIS; Mark Hansen, District
Director. USCIS; Jeh Johnson. Secretary of Homeland Security;
Loretta Lynch. Attorney General of the United Stales; and
Steven Dettlebach. United States Attorney for the Northern
District of Ohio. ("Defendants"), filed a joint
Memorandum in Opposition (ECF #32). and Plaintiffs filed a
Reply Brief (ECF #33). The issues have been fully briefed and
are ripe for review.
reasons set forth below. Plaintiffs" Motion for Summary
Judgment is DENIED, and judgment is entered in favor of
Defendants as a matter of law.
Factual and Procedural Background
Mr. Daraghma. was born in Palestine and entered the United
States on a nonimmigrant visa in 2005. When applying for this
visa in 2004. Mr. Daraghma stated that he was married to
Nasreen Mohamad Khaled Daraghma ("'Nasreen").
In 2007r Mr. Daraghma married Plaintiff. Michelle
Daraghma. a United States citizen. Marriage documents issued
by the State of Ohio and submitted by Plaintiffs to the
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
("USCIS") stated that each Plaintiff had been
married once before. (ECF #13. PagelD #458)
7. 2008. Michelle Daraghma filed a Form 1-130. Petition for
Alien Relative ("I-130"). in order to gain
"immediate relative status" for Mr. Daraghma. which
would then allow him to pursue an immigrant visa.
See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1151(b) and
1154(a)(1)(A)(I). The 1-130 form stated that Mr. Daraghma had
been previously married to Nasreen. but that they were
divorced in 2005. (Id. at #613). Plaintiffs also
submitted a divorce decree, purportedly issued by the Shariaa
Court in Palestine, as evidence of Mr. Daraghma's 2005
divorce from Nasreen. (Id. at #608-610) Also on May
7. 2008. Mr. Daraghma filed a Form 1-485 Application to
Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, which also
indicated that he had previously married and divorced
USCIS reviewed the documentation provided with
Plaintiffs" 1-130 and conducted an interview of both
Plaintiffs in December 2008. While under oath. Mr. Daraghma
again stated that he had been married to Nasreen and that he
divorced her in 2005. The USCIS also reviewed evidence
submitted to show that Rami and Michelle Daraghma entered
into a bona fide marriage for immigration purposes, including
a lease and interviews with the Plaintiffs and other
witnesses. The USCIS originally found that Michelle Daraghma
had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that she
and Mr. Daraghma shared a residence or otherwise co-mingled
their lives or their finances in a significant, meaningful
way. It also found that the evidence of Mr. Daraghma*s
alleged prior divorce was not sufficient to establish that he
was legally free to enter into the marriage with Michelle.
(ECF #13 PagelD 326). During the course of the administrative
proceedings, the USCIS sent Plaintiffs at least two separate
Notices of Intent to Deny, ("'NOIDs"). each
time providing Plaintiffs 30 days to submit additional
documentation to address inconsistencies between the
Plaintiffs" statements and the evidence provided.
Plaintiffs responded at first by again providing the 2005
divorce decree with a new. certified English translation, and
other new documentation purporting to show that Mr. Daraghma
was divorced from Nasreen. They also emphasized their shared
children as evidence of a meaningful marriage.
USCIS reviewed and investigated the evidence provided by the
Plaintiffs. Their investigation revealed that the divorce
documents submitted were fraudulent. (Id. at
#236-238). Upon hearing of the USCIS's discovery. Mr.
Daraghma filed an 1-601 Application for Waiver on the Ground
of Inadmissibility (“1-601"). asking the USCIS to
waive fraudulent statements or documents so as not to
adversely affect the immigration process. Along with this
1-160 form, filed June 4. 2010. Plaintiffs each filed
Affidavits indicating for the first time that Mr. Daraghma
was never married to Nasreen. and admitting that they
provided false evidence and testimony to the USCIS.
(Id. at #208). Mr. Daraghma also provided a
"Deed of Celibacy" executed by Mr. Daraghma's
father, dated March 21. 2006. purporting to show that Mr.
Daraghma was single at that time, and "'intended to
marry a Muslim girl." (Id. at #82).
February 14. 2013. the USCIS denied Michelle Daraghma's
1-130. (Id. at #186). The USCIS report indicated
several remaining discrepancies with the evidence presented,
and found that the Plaintiffs "did not provide
sufficient evidence to demonstrate that [Plaintiffs] truly
share a residence, commingle your assets and otherwise lead
shared lives together in a significant. meaningful way."
(Id. at #188). This report also indicated that
Plaintiffs "failed to prove to USCIS that [Mr. Daraghma]
was indeed single and free to marry when the marriage
[Michelle Daraghma] took place." They cited, among other
things, a lack of authenticated photographs during the
relevant time: lack of witnesses to the wedding: lack of
shared auto insurance during the relevant time period: lack
of detail in supporting witnesses' affidavits:
discrepancies between the Plaintiffs" testimony and the
terms of their lease and landlord's testimony, resulting
in a lack of credible evidence of co-habitation: the
submission of false documents to prove Mr. Daraghma's
alleged divorce from Nasreen: the admission that both
applicants lied in previous interviews and submitted false
documentation in support of their application, and the fact
that the Deed of Celibacy was not persuasive because it was
based merely on a sworn statement by Mr. Daraghma's
father and contradicted the original statements of both Rami
and Michelle Daraghma. (Id. at 188-189). Shortly
thereafter, the USCIS denied Mr. Daraghma's 1-485
application because it could not adjust his status once the
1-130 was denied. The USCIS also denied Mr. Daraghma's
1-601. (ECF #19. PagelD #699-701).
appealed the denial of the 1-130 to the Board of Immigration
Appeals ("BIA").The B1A reviewed the evidence at issue
de novo, and on August 24. 2015, adopted and
affirmed the decision denying the 1-130. (ECF #13, PagelD
#81-83). The BIA indicated that Michelle Daraghma "has
not met her burden to demonstrate that [Mr. Daraghma] was
free to marrv her on April 19. 2007. and that the marriage
was bona fide." (Id. at 83). More specifically,
the BIA found that Michelle Daraghma provided
"contradictory, inconsistent or misrepresented
information" and that she did not "adequately
explain the inconsistencies between the prior statements
given by herself and [Mr. Daraghma] and their most recent
affidavits concerning [Mr. Daraghma's] prior marriage,
and she did not sufficiently establish that [Mr. Daraghma]
was free to marry her." (Id. at 81-82).
February 5. 2016. Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint
for Mandamus and Declarator}' Relief, asking this Court
to approve Michelle Daraghma's 1-130 Petition, approve
Mr. Daraghma's 1-601 waiver and to direct the USC1S to
adjudicate Mr. Daraghma's 1-485 Application.
(See ECF #15). Plaintiffs filed this action under
the Administrative Procedures Act. 5 U.S.C. § 702. et
seq. ("APA"), the Mandamus Act. 28 U.S.C.
§1361 and federal question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C §
the Status Conference of September 19. 2016. the parties
agreed that this Court does not possess jurisdiction to
review the 3-601 denial, as 8 U.S.C. § 11 82(i)(2)
provides that "no court shall have jurisdiction to
review a decision or action ... regarding a waiver [under
this section]." See also Jama v. U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Sendees, 962 F.Supp.2d 939 (N.D.Ohio
2013). Further, during this Status Conference.
Plaintiffs' counsel agreed that a Mandamus action was not
appropriate in this case and that the Court's
jurisdiction over this matter was limited to appellate review
under the APA. See ECF #36. Therefore, the sole
issue before this Court is whether the denial of the 1-130
was unlawful under the APA.