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Labatte v. Acting Secretary

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

June 18, 2018

JOSEPH LABATTE and AMELIA MCDONALD, Plaintiffs,
v.
ACTING SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, ACTING DISTRICT DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGR AT IO N SER VICES, TAMPA, FLO RIDA and ACT ING ORLANDO FIELD OFFICE DIRECTOR, C IT IZE NS H IP AND IMMIGR A T I O N SERVICES, Defendants.

          ORDER

          PAUL G. BYRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause comes before the Court without oral argument on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 19), filed February 23, 2018. Plaintiff responded in opposition on Marc h 23, 2018. (Doc. 22). With briefing complete, the matter is now ripe. Upon consideration, the Complaint is due to be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Joseph Labatte (“Labatte”)-a Haitian citizen-entered the Unites States near Mona Isle, Puerto Rico, in June 2012. (Doc. 1, pp. 1, 4 (“Complaint”)). Soon after, Labatte was apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) officers. (Id. at p. 4). CBP determined Labatte was an “immigrant not in possession of a valid unexpir ed immigrant visa, reentry permit, border crossing card, or other valid entry document required by the Immigration and Nationality Act [(‘INA')].” (Doc. 1-5). As such, Labatte was found inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I), 8 U.S.C. § 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I). (Id.). On July 5, 2012, CBP ordered the expedited removal of Labatte pursuant to INA § 235(b)(1) and 8 U.S.C. § 1225. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         Next, CBP transferred Labatte to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), which released him on July 25, 2012, subject to an order of supervision. (Id.). On January 9, 2013, an ICE Asylum Officer interviewed Labatte and found him “to have credible fear.” (Doc. 1-5). On January 23, 2013, ICE issued a Notic e for Labatte to appear before an Immigration Judge (“IJ”). (Doc. 19-1). The Notice charged that Labatte was subject to removal under INA § 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I). (Id.).

         On February 5, 2013, ICE issued a document that “paroled” Labatte into the United States for “8 C.F.R. 212(d)(5) Court Proceedings.”[2] (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc. 1-6). A February 1, 2013, letter from ICE similarly stated: “We have concluded that you [Labatte] meet the criteria for parole.” (Doc. 1-5). Labatte thereafter filed a Form I-589, Application for Political Asylum and for Withholding of Removal on February 21, 2013. (Doc. 1, p. 5). On May 22, 2013, the IJ denied Labatte's Form I-589 application, and ordered Labatte be removed from the United States. (Id.).

         On March 14, 2016, Labatte filed a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). (Doc. 1, p. 1; Doc. 1-2). The same day, Labatte's wife, co-Plaintiff Amelia McDonald (“McDonald”), filed a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on his behalf. (Doc. 1, p. 2; Doc. 1-1).

         On September 20, 2016, Labatte and McDonald reported to the USCIS field office in Orlando, Florida, for a scheduled interview. (Doc. 1, p. 4). After, the officer conducting the interview told them that a decision as to Labatte's immigration status was forthcoming. (Id.). Having not received a decision, Labatte and McDonald filed this action against several acting secretaries and field office directors of the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS seeking a writ of mandamus compelling Defendants to “reach a proper decision as to the Form I-130 and Form I-485, ” pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-06, and the Mandamus Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1361. (Id. at p. 8).

         Defendants move to dismiss, charging that they lack jurisdiction to process Plaintiffs' applications for adjustment of status. (Doc. 19).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         Although Defendants invoke Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), the Court construes the motion as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim only under Rule 12(b)(6).[3]

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” set forth in “numbered paragraphs each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), 10(b). Thus, to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Courts must also view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and resolve any doubts as to the sufficiency of the complaint in the plaintiff's favor. Hunnings v. Texaco, Inc., 29 F.3d 1480, 1483 (11th Cir. 1994) (per curiam). A claim is plausible on its face when the plaintiff “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         B. ...


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