United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Gilma Geanette Melgar and Aurelia Concepcion Martinez, Plaintiffs,
William P. Barr,  Kirstjen Nielsen, Lee Cissna, Donald Neufeld, Robert Cowan, Leslie Tritten, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Defendants.
Brittany S. Bakken, Esq., and David L. Wilson, Esq., Wilson
Law Group, counsel for Plaintiffs.
Emily Juarez and Erin M. Secord, Assistant United States
Attorneys, United States Attorney's Office, counsel for
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case presents a question of statutory interpretation between
the interplay of two provisions under the Immigration and
Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1101,
et seq.: (1) the designation of Temporary Protected
Status (“TPS”) under § 1254a, and (2) the
adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Resident
(“LPR”) under § 1255(a). The Court now
considers Plaintiffs Gilma Geanette Melgar and Aurelia
Concepcion Martinez's (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) First Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. No. 23) and Defendants William P. Barr, III, Kirstjen
Nielsen, Lee Cissna, Donald Neufeld, Robert Cowan, Leslie
Tritten, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services, and U.S.
Department of Homeland Security's (collectively,
“Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss.(Doc. No. 16.)
sole issue before the Court is whether TPS beneficiaries are
deemed “inspected and admitted” to satisfy the
threshold requirement for adjustment of status to LPR. For
the reasons discussed below, the Court holds that they are.
Consequently, the Court grants Plaintiffs' First Motion
for Summary Judgment and denies Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss or, in the alternative, Cross-Motion for Summary
Judgment. The Court remands the matter to United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)
for adjudication consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.
is no dispute as to the facts asserted in Plaintiffs'
Complaint. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiffs are each TPS
beneficiaries whose applications for status adjustment to LPR
were denied by USCIS. (Compl. ¶¶ 55, 69.) Plaintiff
Gilma Geanette Melgar. (“Melgar”) is a citizen of
El Salvador who entered the United States unlawfully without
inspection in February 1992. (Id. ¶¶ 1,
46.) Plaintiff Aurelia Concepcion Martinez
(“Martinez”) is a citizen of Honduras who entered
the United States unlawfully without inspection in November
1996. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 60.) The Attorney General
designated both El Salvador (March 9, 2001) and Honduras
(January 5, 1999) as TPS countries. (Id.
¶¶ 38, 41.) Following the corresponding
designations, Plaintiffs each timely applied to USCIS for
TPS. (Id. ¶¶ 48, 62.) Plaintiffs both
disclosed to USCIS that they entered the United States
without inspection. (Doc. Nos. 26 ¶ 3, 27 ¶ 2.)
Plaintiffs were each approved for TPS and subsequent
extensions by USCIS. (Compl. ¶¶ 49-50, 63-64.) In
early 2018, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security, terminated TPS for El Salvador and Honduras
effective September 9, 2019 and January 5, 2020,
respectively. (Id. ¶¶ 39, 42.)
December 2016, Melgar's adult daughter, who is a United
States citizen, petitioned for an immigrant visa for Melgar
as an immediate relative. (Id. ¶ 51.) Likewise,
on August 27, 2017, Martinez's adult daughter, who is a
United States citizen, petitioned for an immigrant visa for
Martinez as an immediate relative. (Id. ¶ 65.)
Plaintiffs also applied for family-based status adjustment to
LPR in conjunction with their daughters' petitions.
(Id. ¶¶ 51, 65.)
response, USCIS issued a request for evidence of lawful
admission or parole into the United States. (Id.
¶¶ 52, 66.) Plaintiffs each timely responded to the
request with documentation of their TPS and a copy of
Bonilla v. Johnson, 149 F.Supp.3d 1135 (D. Minn.
2016), holding that TPS approval satisfied the admission
requirement under INA § 245(a). (Id.
¶¶ 53, 67.) USCIS nonetheless denied
Plaintiffs' applications for adjustment of status,
asserting that a grant of TPS is not an
admission. (Id. ¶¶ 55-56, 69-70.)
Plaintiffs commenced this action for review of USCIS'
denials under the Administrative Procedures Act.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate if the “movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Courts must view the evidence and all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Weitz Co., LLC v. Lloyd's of
London, 574 F.3d 885, 892 (8th Cir. 2009). However,
“[s]ummary judgment procedure is properly regarded not
as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an
integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are
designed ‘to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive
determination of every action.'” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986) (quoting
moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no
genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank of
Mo., 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The nonmoving
party must demonstrate the existence of specific facts in the
record that create a genuine issue for trial. Krenik v.
Cty. of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995). A
party opposing a properly supported motion for summary
judgment “may not rest upon mere allegation or denials
of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986).