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Garcia v. Tritten

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 9, 2019

EDGAR GALLEGOS GARCIA, Petitioner,
v.
LESLIE TRITTEN, District Director, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services; KEVIN MCALEENAN, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; WILLIAM BARR, United States Attorney General; L. FRANCIS CISSNA, Acting Director, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, Respondents.

          AMENDED FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND ORDER OF JUDGMENT

          Nancy E. Brasel United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Edgard Gallegos Garcia’s request for de novo review of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ denials of his naturalization application. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Edgard Gallegos Garcia’s naturalization application.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. Edgar Gallegos Garcia is a native and citizen of Mexico. (Ex. J–9.)

         2. In February 2002, Garcia became a lawful permanent resident of the United States. (Id.; Garcia Testimony, Trial Transcript (“Tr.”) at 38:11–24.)

         3. In or about early 2013, Garcia applied for a police cadet position with the City of Hopkins. (Ex. J–2.) The Hennepin County Joint Community Police Partnership funded the cadet position for the purpose of increasing diversity of the police department. (Ex. J–7.) The minimum qualifications required the candidate to be a United States citizen or be lawfully residing in the United States with authorization to work and “capable of becoming a U.S. citizen by the expected time of appointment to a police officer position.” (Id.)

         4. The City of Hopkins completed a background check on Garcia when it considered his application. (Ex. J–3.) The background check does not mention his immigration status. (Id.)

         5. In May 2013, the City of Hopkins hired Garcia as a police cadet. (Ex. J–5.) Garcia completed a Form I–9, stating he was a lawful permanent resident and not a citizen. (Ex. J–2.) He provided the police department with his permanent resident card. (Id.)

         6. After completing the cadet course, the City of Hopkins offered Garcia a peace officer position, which is a sworn position with standards set by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officers Standards and Training (“POST Board”). (Ex. J–4.) Garcia did not know that the POST Board standards include that a peace officer in Minnesota must be a United States citizen.

         7. The City of Hopkins completed an updated background check on Garcia, which did not address or verify Garcia’s immigration status. (Ex. J–8.)

         8. No one asked Garcia to update his I–9 and the City of Hopkins did not attempt to confirm Garcia’s immigration status before offering him the peace officer position. (Johnson Testimony, Tr. at 20:18–25.)

         9. Garcia likewise does not recall having a conversation with anyone regarding his status after completing the Form I–9 and providing a copy of his permanent residence card. (Garcia Testimony, Tr. at 48:13–15.)

         10. When Garcia became a full–time peace officer, his hourly wage increased from $15.16 per hour to $26.59 per hour. (Compare Ex. J–4 with Ex. J–5.) But to become a peace officer, Garcia took a reduction in wages from his previous job as a carpenter, where he earned $35–36 per hour. (Garcia Testimony, Tr. at 56:2–9; 42:11–14.) Garcia was willing to take this cut in pay because of his long‐held dream of becoming a police officer. (Id. at 56:6–7.)

         11. During the relevant period, Brent Johnson was a captain in the police department and Michael Reynolds was the chief of police. At the time of trial, Brent Johnson was the chief of police and Michael Reynolds was retired. (Johnson Testimony, Tr. at 8:1–6; (Deposition of Reynolds (“Reynolds Dep.”) at 6:9–16.)

         12. In August 2014, Garcia had a meeting with former Chief Reynolds. Reynolds congratulated Garcia on becoming a peace officer, and handed him a form for his POST Board certification, which was already completed. (Garcia Testimony, Tr. at 52:22–54:1.) Garcia signed it. (Id.; Ex. J–1.)

         13. Prior to that meeting, Johnson had completed the POST Board certification form (except for the signatures). He gave it to Reynolds so Reynolds could sign it and have Garcia sign it. (Johnson Testimony, Tr. at 22:6–23:5.)

         14. Above the signature is an affirmation that Garcia was a citizen of the United States. (Ex. J–1.)

         15. Garcia signed the application without first reading it. (Garcia Testimony, Tr. at 54:6–11; 62:17–23.) He failed to read the form out of excitement from being offered the job and because he relied on the Chief’s explanation of the form. (Id. at 54:6– 11.) Thus he did not realize he was affirming anything about his immigration status. (Id. at 62:17–19.)

         16. Garcia is not a citizen of the United States. (Id. 38:17–18.)

         17. The State of Minnesota requires peace officers to be United States citizens. Minn. R. 6700.700, subpart 1, A (2008). There is no similar citizenship requirement for police cadets. (Reynolds Dep. at 10:20–11:5.)

         18. No one at the police department realized there was an issue with Garcia’s citizenship, and Garcia never looked into the citizenship requirement for Minnesota police officers. (Reynolds ...


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