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Medina v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 16, 2019





         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Ex Parte Motion for Leave to File a Third Amended Complaint. Dkt. #140. Plaintiff, Mr. Ramirez, seeks leave to add factual allegations related to the government's recent denial of his request to renew his DACA status-which occurred after the Second Amended Complaint was filed-and to assert additional claims based upon new evidence and these new events. Plaintiff sought ex parte relief arguing that it was justified under a heightened urgency for relief. Id. at 1. The Court determined that the Motion was improperly noted as an ex parte motion and renoted it in accordance with Local Civil Rule 7(d)(3). Defendants[1] oppose the Motion. Dkt. #141. For the following reasons, the Court grants the Motion.


         The factual background was previously recounted at length in the Court's amended Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Dkt. #133. The Court adopts that factual background and briefly summarizes the history most relevant to consideration of this Motion.

         Mr. Ramirez was brought to the United States when he was approximately ten, has lived in the country most of his life, and has a five-year old, American-born son. In 2013, Mr. Ramirez applied for deferred action and work authorization under the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (“DACA”) policy. He was granted DACA status and work authorization in 2014 and was reapproved in 2016. His 2016 approval was to be valid until May 5, 2018.

         In February 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detained Mr. Ramirez, maintained that he was in the country illegally, and issued him a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) at removal proceedings. At the same time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) provided Mr. Ramirez with a Notice of Action (“NOA”) indicating that issuance of the NTA automatically terminated his DACA status and work authorization. Subsequent proceedings before the Immigration Court resulted in an Order of Removal.

         Thereafter, Mr. Ramirez initiated this action. Through this legal action and others, the government was forced to restore Mr. Ramirez's DACA status and work authorization for its original term-until May 5, 2018. After restoring his status, the government sent Mr. Ramirez a Notice of Intent to Terminate (“NOIT”) his restored status because he did “not warrant a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion” because of “statements relating to gang association.” Dkt. #126-1 at 19-20. Mr. Ramirez challenged the government's actions in seeking to terminate his DACA status and work authorization status. See generally, Dkt. #78. Because the government lacked evidence supporting its determination that Mr. Ramirez was a gang member, this Court found that “Defendants' continued assertion that [Mr. Ramirez] is a gang member or gang-affiliated is arbitrary and capricious.” Dkt. #133 at 19. Accordingly, the Court enjoined Defendant USCIS “from asserting, adopting, or relying in any proceedings on any statement or record made as of this date purporting to allege or establish that Mr. Ramirez is a gang member, gang affiliated, or a threat to public safety.” Id. at 23.

         After the Court issued its preliminary injunction, Mr. Ramirez applied to renew his DACA status and work authorization. Uncharacteristically, the government denied his relatively routine request that had been granted twice before under the same criteria. Dkt. #140-2 at ¶ 83. Mr. Ramirez alleges that the government instead concluded that he was a “public safety threat”[2]based on relatively minor transgressions.[3] Mr. Ramirez maintains that Defendants did not previously rely on these transgressions even though they were known to the government. Id. Mr. Ramirez further maintains that the government's denial was unlawful, in violation of this Court's preliminary injunction, and violated his rights. Id. at ¶ 85.


         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 mandates that leave to amend “be freely given when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). “This policy is to be applied with extreme liberality.” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted). The party opposing amendment has the burden of showing that amendment is not warranted. DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1987); see also Richardson v. United States, 841 F.2d 993, 999 (9th Cir. 1988). Amendment may be unwarranted “due to ‘undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party . . ., [and] futility of amendment.'” Carvalho v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 629 F.3d 876, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). “Not all of the factors merit equal weight. . . . [I]t is the consideration of prejudice to the opposing party that carries the greatest weight.” Eminence Capital, 316 F.3d at 1052 (citation omitted). “Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining [] factors, there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend.” Id. (emphasis in original).

         B. Granting Leave to Amend is Appropriate

         The government's primary argument against amendment is that it would be unduly prejudiced by defending against Mr. Ramirez's new claims in this action because the new claims are based on new actions taken by the government. In support, the government relies on Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, No. CV 07-0038-PHX-MHM, 2010 WL 3924069 (D. Ariz. Sept. 30, 2010) and Planned Parenthood v. Neely, 130 F.3d 400, 402 (9th Cir. 1997). But, as Mr. Ramirez notes, both of those cases dealt with attempts to file supplemental pleadings after judgment had already been entered in the cases. In fact, the court in Ctr. For Biological Diversity specifically recognizes that the general rule is that a motion to supplement will likely be granted where an action is still ...

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