United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Herbert A. Igbanugo, IGBANUGO PARTNERS INT'L LAW FIRM,
PLLC, for plaintiffs.
Christopher W. Dempsey and Timothy Michael Belsan, U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Ben Franklin Station, for defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
R. TUNHEIM, CHIEF JUDGE.
Farok Abdulmajid Hamod and Orwa Ali Al-Saadoon bring this
action against various federal actors involved in the
nation's immigration system, seeking federal court review
of the denial of their naturalization applications. United
States Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung issued a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the
Court grant Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, finding that Plaintiffs have
failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. Plaintiffs
objected to the R&R. As discussed below, the Court
rejects Plaintiffs' argument that their requests to cure
prior unlawful admissions in the context of their
naturalization applications are separate from the
naturalization applications. Thus, Plaintiffs must
administratively appeal the denials of their naturalization
applications prior to bringing a federal case. Accordingly,
the Court will overrule Plaintiffs' objections, adopt the
R&R, and dismiss Plaintiffs' claims without prejudice
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
previously sought review of denials of earlier naturalization
applications. Review of those denials resulted in an Eighth
Circuit decision affirming the district court's holding
that Hamod was unlawfully admitted - due to unauthorized
employment while on a nonimmigrant visa - and thus Hamod
along with Al-Saadoon, as a derivative beneficiary of
Hamod's application, were ineligible for naturalization.
See Al-Saadoon v. Lynch, 816 F.3d 1012, 1013-15
(8th Cir. 2016). Plaintiffs then filed additional
applications, including applications for naturalization
(N-400) and a form called “Supplement A to Form I-485,
” which is meant to supplement applications for
adjustment of status when an individual is seeking a waiver
under 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i). (See R&R at 4,
June 12, 2017, Docket No. 38; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 41-42,
Sept. 29, 2016, Docket No. 21.)
September 2016 United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services (“USCIS”) denied Plaintiffs'
applications for naturalization on the grounds that they were
unlawfully admitted. (Am. Compl. ¶ 47; Index of Exs.,
Exs. A-B, Oct. 28, 2016, Docket No. 32.) USCIS noted
“that in connection with [Plaintiffs'] N-400
[applications], [Plaintiffs] seek retroactive, or nunc
pro tunc,  relief in order to cure [their] unlawful
admission through the filing of Form I-485 Supplement A,
Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i).” (Index of
Exs., Ex. A at 2.) But USCIS denied this request, stating
Plaintiffs' “unlawful adjustment cannot be cured in
these naturalization proceedings through the exercise of
equity.” (Id.) Plaintiffs seek review
of USCIS's decisions on their applications for
naturalization and their underlying request to cure their
unlawful admission using Supplement A to Form I-485.
October 13, 2016, Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. On
June 12, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued an R&R
recommending that the Court dismiss Plaintiffs' action
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Magistrate Judge
reasoned that federal statute provides for review of denials
of naturalization applications only “after a hearing
before an immigration officer under section 1447(a), ”
8 U.S.C. § 1421(c), and thus, the Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction prior to such a hearing. (R&R at
8-16.) The Magistrate Judge rejected Plaintiffs'
arguments that there was a futility exception to §
1421(c)'s exhaustion requirement. (Id. at
12-16.) The Magistrate Judge also rejected Plaintiffs'
position that their request to cure their unlawful admission
nunc pro tunc was separate from their request for
naturalization and therefore not subject to § 1421(c).
(Id. at 16-19.)
27, 2017, Plaintiffs filed objections to the
R&R. (Pls.' Objs., June 27, 2017, Docket
No. 39.) Plaintiffs argue that the Magistrate Judge erred in
finding the Court lacked jurisdiction over USCIS's denial
of Plaintiffs' request to cure their unlawful admissions
nunc pro tunc using Supplement A to Form I-485
because that request was separate from their naturalization
application, and therefore not subject to § 1421(c);
Plaintiffs also argue that § 1421(c) would not provide
an adequate remedy for Plaintiffs' request. Finally,
Plaintiffs ask in the alternative that the Court hold its
decision in abeyance until Plaintiffs exhaust their
administrative appeals. The Court reviews “properly
objected to” portions of an R&R de novo.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR
Court does not find a separately reviewable issue as to
Plaintiffs' request to cure their unlawful admission over
which the Court could have subject matter jurisdiction at
this time. Supplement A to Form I-485, which Plaintiffs rely
on, is meant to supplement Form I-485 applications to adjust
status, and thus it does not appear that Supplement A is a
stand-alone application for particular relief. Based on the
current record, it appears that Plaintiffs were asking USCIS
to supplement their prior applications for adjustment of
status nunc pro tunc to cure Plaintiffs'
unlawful admissions in order to grant their naturalization
applications. Accordingly, USCIS's denial of
Plaintiffs' nunc pro tunc request formed part of
the denial of Plaintiffs' naturalization applications.
Thus, USCIS's decision - that USCIS cannot cure
Plaintiffs' unlawful adjustment via the nunc pro
tunc request and therefore Plaintiffs are not eligible
for naturalization - will be reviewed in Plaintiffs'
appeal of the denial of their naturalization applications.
Court therefore finds Plaintiffs have not exhausted their
administrative remedies or satisfied § 1421(c), which
leaves the Court without subject matter jurisdiction to hear
their challenge at this time. Accordingly, the Court will
overrule Plaintiffs' objections, adopt the R&R, and
grant Defendants' motion to dismiss.
on the foregoing, and all the files, records, and proceedings
herein, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiffs'
Objections to the R&R [Docket No. 39] and
ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation of the