United States District Court, W.D. Washington
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. No. 15) and Defendants'
cross-motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 16). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby GRANTS Plaintiff's motion and DENIES
Defendants' cross-motion for the reasons explained
Huiwi Lai is a Chinese citizen. See Certified
Administrative Record (“CAR”) at 55. He came to the
United States on a B1 nonimmigrant visa in August 1997 and
has held a Green Card since November 1997. Id. at
47. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(“USCIS”) now indicates that it has no record
that Plaintiff ever applied for lawful permanent resident
(“LPR”) status, a prerequisite to holding a Green
Card. (Dkt. No. 16-1 at 1.) On November 5, 1997, Robert
Schofield, a USCIS Officer, completed and approved an
Immigration and Naturalization Services
(“I.N.S.”) Form I-181, Memorandum of Creation of
Lawful Permanent Resident, granting Plaintiff LPR status and
a resulting Green Card. (Dkt. No. 22-1 at 2.) But in 2006,
Mr. Schofield pled guilty to accepting bribes to grant LPR
status to unqualified individuals. CAR at 45-46. At the time,
he identified Plaintiff as a client of Qiming Ye, a broker
Schofield worked with to provide Green Cards to individuals
in exchange for cash payments. Id. at 47-48.
this history, USCIS renewed Plaintiff's Green Card in
2009. Id.; (Dkt. No. 15-1 at 10-11.) USCIS also
approved Plaintiff's application to re-enter the country
following lengthy travel abroad in 2008. Id. Then,
in 2013, USCIS denied Plaintiff's application for a
re-entry permit. CAR at 43-44. USCIS did so after concluding
that Plaintiff was “not and never [had] been a lawful
permanent resident” because Officer Schofield had
“fraudulently processed” Plaintiff's
immigration documents. Id. USCIS did not attempt to
confiscate Plaintiff's Green Card or take further action.
Id. at 48. As a result, Plaintiff “continued
to travel frequently” on a short-term basis “in
and out of the United States.” Id.
on May 6, 2015, Plaintiff was returning from a short trip to
Canada. Id. at 21-22. He presented his Green Card to
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) agents at
the Peace Arch Point of Entry in Blaine, Washington.
Id. CBP elected to detain and investigate Plaintiff.
Id. It reviewed USCIS's 2013 letter informing
Plaintiff that he did not have LPR status. Id. at
30-32, 43-44. CBP also reviewed an April 15, 2015 USCIS memo
describing Officer Schofield's fraudulent activities and
Plaintiff's alleged involvement. Id. at 45-48,
71. After questioning Plaintiff, CBP confiscated
Plaintiff's Green Card and paroled him into the United
States without lawful status. Id. at 17-42. The
Department of Homeland Security has since initiated removal
proceedings. (Dkt. No. 15-1 at 25-26.) A hearing is scheduled
before an Immigration Judge for March 14, 2021.
seeks the return of his Green Card and reinstatement of LPR
status until such time as Plaintiff's removal proceedings
are complete. (Dkt. No. 15 at 10.) Defendants seek dismissal
of Plaintiff's claims on the basis that he was never
eligible for LPR status and, therefore, no process is due to
him. (Dkt. No. 16 at 12.) The Court dismissed Plaintiff's
causes of action based on the Immigration and Nationality Act
and estoppel. (See Dkt. No. 13.) Plaintiff and
Defendants now cross-move for summary judgment on
Plaintiff's remaining claim: that CBP's confiscation
of his Green Card and USCIS's summary rescission of his
LPR status violated the Administrative Procedure Act
(“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.
(Dkt. Nos. 15, 16); (see Dkt. No. 1 at 9).
provides for judicial review of agency actions for any person
“adversely affected or aggrieved” by a
“final agency action for which there is no other
adequate remedy in a court.” 5. U.S.C. §§
702, 704. “[T]he function of the district court is to
determine whether or not as a matter of law the evidence in
the administrative record permitted the agency to make the
decision it did.” Occidental Eng'g Co. v.
I.N.S., 753 F.2d 766, 769 (9th Cir. 1985). Where
questions before the Court are purely legal, the Court can
resolve an APA challenge on a motion for summary judgment.
See Fence Creek Cattle Co. v. U.S. Forest Serv., 602
F.3d 1125, 1131 (9th Cir. 2010). The Court's role is to
determine whether, as a matter of law, evidence in the
administrative record supports the agency's decision.
Occidental Eng'g Co., 753 F.2d at 769. An agency
action must be set aside if it is found to be
“arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or
otherwise not in accordance with law” or
“contrary to constitutional right.” 5 U.S.C.
§ 706(2)(A); see also Citizens to Pres. Overton
Park, Inc. v. Volpe, 401 U.S. 402, 413-14 (1971). While
a federal court should not substitute its own judgment for
that of the agency, the agency must examine the relevant data
and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action
including “a rational connection between the facts
found and the choice made.” Motor Vehicle Mfrs.
Ass'n v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S.
29, 43 (1983) (citations omitted).
threshhold matter, the Court finds that CBP's actions
were not arbitrary or capricious. CBP confiscated
Plaintiff's Green Card and paroled him into the United
States without lawful status based upon the following: its
interview with Plaintiff, whom CBP found not to be credible;
USCIS's 2013 letter to Plaintiff notifying him that he
was not an LPR; and USCIS's internal 2015 memorandum
describing the allegations of fraud. CAR at 21-22, 30-32,
43-48. An agency action is arbitrary and capricious
“when the agency has relied on factors which Congress
has not intended it to consider, entirely failed to consider
an important aspect of the problem, offered an explanation
for its decision that runs counter to the evidence before the
agency, or is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to
a difference in view or the product of agency
expertise.” Safari Aviation Inc. v. Garvey,
300 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2002). This is not the case
this does not end the analysis. An agency action must also be
set aside if it is “not in accordance with law”
or “contrary to constitutional right.” 5 U.S.C.
§ 706(2)(A), (B). The Court concludes that CBP and
USCIS's actions were both. Namely, the agencies'
actions were not consistent with procedures afforded by the
Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C.
§ 1221 et seq., or the Fifth Amendment's
due process clause.
first received LPR status more than fifteen years ago. CAR at
47. According to the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1256(a), an
alien's LPR status can only be rescinded within the first
five years of the adjustment of status. 8 U.S.C. §
1229a; Oloteo v. I.N.S., 643 F.2d 679, 682 (9th Cir.
1981); see Stolaj v. Holder, 577 F.3d 651, 656 (6th
Cir. 2009) (describing an Immigration Judge's review of
LPR status allegedly obtained by fraud). This period ...