Ma v. USCIS Director

Filing 25

ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James denying 20 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 21 Motion for Summary Judgment. (mejlc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/21/2016)

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1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 5 WENMIN MA, 6 Case No. 15-cv-05672-MEJ Plaintiff, 7 ORDER RE: MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT v. 8 USCIS DIRECTOR, 9 Re: Dkt. Nos. 20, 21 Defendant. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 INTRODUCTION 12 This Order considers whether the United States Citizen and Immigration Service 13 14 (―USCIS‖) properly revoked the visa petition for Plaintiff Wenmin Ma (―Plaintiff‖) following the 15 death of her mother, the petitioner. Pending before the Court are the parties‘ cross-motions for 16 summary judgment. Pl.‘s Mot., Dkt. No. 20; Def.‘s Mot., Dkt. No. 21. Having considered the 17 parties‘ positions, relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS 18 Defendant USCIS Director‘s (―Defendant‖) Motion and DENIES Plaintiff‘s Motion for the 19 reasons set forth below. BACKGROUND 20 Plaintiff is the daughter of Shuzen Li. Certified Administrative Record (―AR‖) 27, Dkt. 21 22 No. 17-181; see also AR 46. Li, a citizen of the People‘s Republic of China, became a United 23 States permanent resident on January 31, 2007. AR 19. On May 1, 2007, Li filed a petition for 24 alien relative (Form I-130) to classify Plaintiff as her unmarried daughter. AR 13-15. USCIS 25 approved the I-130 petition on July 20, 2009, classifying Plaintiff as the unmarried daughter of a 26 lawful permanent resident. Id.; AR 9. 27 28 1 Dkt. No. 17 contains pages 1-98, while Dkt. No. 18 contains pages 99-182. Li naturalized on February 26, 2013, and consequently, the I-130 petition was 1 2 automatically converted to a petition for the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen. AR 11.2 3 However, Li died on October 30, 2014. AR 6. The State Department‘s National Visa Center sent 4 a memorandum to USCIS on July 9, 2015, regarding Li‘s I-130 petition. AR 4. The 5 memorandum stated that the I-130‘s beneficiary, Plaintiff, appeared to not be eligible for the 6 benefit sought due to the death of the petitioner and recommended the petition be revoked. Id. 7 USCIS issued a notice of decision to Li‘s estate on August 24, 2015, stating that due to 8 Li‘s death and pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 205.1(a)(3)(i)(C), the I-130 petition was automatically 9 revoked as of the date of its approval. AR 2. The notice included instruction on how to request 10 reinstatement of the I-130 petition‘s approval under 8 C.F.R. § 205.1(a)(3)(i)(C)(2). Id. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Plaintiff filed this case on December 11, 2015. Compl., Dkt. No. 1. Pursuant to the 12 Administrative Procedure Act, she seeks review of USCIS‘s decision to revoke Li‘s I-130 petition 13 due to Li‘s death. Id. at ¶ 1. Plaintiff alleges the Immigration and Nationality Act (―INA‖) only 14 authorizes USCIS to revoke an immigrant visa petition where the evidence warrants denial (id. at 15 ¶ 11), and alleges the revocation in this case was unlawful because Plaintiff continued to be Li‘s 16 daughter even after her mother‘s death (id. at ¶ 12-13). In her Motion, Plaintiff contends that as 17 she remains the unmarried daughter of Li, USCIS should not have revoked the petition. See Pl.‘s 18 Mot. Plaintiff argues that ―[t]he single question before this Court is whether the death of Shuzhen 19 Li would have been a good and sufficient cause to deny her petition upon her daughter‘s behalf 20 under 8 U.S.C. § 1153(a)(1) at the time it was approved. In other words, does the unmarried 21 daughter of a citizen continue to be the unmarried daughter of a citizen after her citizen mother has 22 died?‖ Pl.‘s Mot. at 7. Defendant phrases the issue somewhat differently: ―whether Li‘s death was a ‗good and 23 24 sufficient cause‘ to revoke an approved petition pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1155[.]‖ Def.‘s Reply at 2- 25 26 27 28 2 Plaintiff also completed two sets of U.S. Department of State (―State Department‖) Form DS230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (―DS-230 Application‖). AR 161-74; 176-85. Plaintiff filed each with the State Department: the first on August 19, 2013, and the second on October 11, 2013. AR 161, 176. There is no evidence the State Department approved either application. See AR 161-74; 176-85. 2 1 3 (emphasis in original). Defendant argues USCIS‘s revocation adhered to the INA‘s regulatory 2 scheme, which provides for the automatic revocation of approved immediate relative petitions 3 upon the death of a petitioner. See Def.‘s Mot.3 As such, USCIS argues it properly utilized its 4 discretion to revoke the petition in this case. Id. LEGAL STANDARD 5 The Administrative Procedure Act (―APA‖) provides for judicial review of final agency 6 7 decisions. 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 706.4 Courts routinely resolve APA challenges to agency 8 administrative decisions by summary judgment. Nw. Motorcycle Ass’n v. U.S. Dept. of Agric., 18 9 F.3d 1468, 1481 (9th Cir. 1994). However, courts do not utilize the standard analysis for determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Occidental Eng’g Co. v. INS., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 753 F.2d 766, 769-70 (9th Cir. 1985). In reviewing an agency action, a court ―is not required to 12 resolve any facts in a review of an administrative proceeding.‖ Id. at 769. ―[T]he function of the 13 district court is to determine whether or not as a matter of law the evidence in the administrative 14 record permitted the agency to make the decision it did.‖ Id. ―Because the presence of the 15 administrative record, which the parties have stipulated to, usually means there are no genuine 16 disputes of material fact, it allows the Court to decide whether to set aside the agency 17 determination on summary judgment without a trial.‖ Sodipo v. Rosenberg, 77 F. Supp. 3d 997, 18 1001 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2015) (citing Camp v. Pitts, 411 U.S. 138, 142 (1973) (per curiam)). Under the APA, a reviewing court may set aside a final agency action if it is ―arbitrary, 19 20 capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.‖ 5 U.S.C. 21 § 706(2)(A). The standard of review under § 706(2)(A) is deferential; a court is not empowered to 22 substitute its judgment for that of the agency. Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n v. State Farm Mut. Ins. 23 Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983); see also Sierra Club v. Clark, 756 F.2d 686, 690 (9th Cir. 1985) 24 (―Traditionally, an agency‘s interpretation of its own regulation is entitled to a high degree of 25 deference if it is not unreasonable.‖). Judicial review under the APA is ―narrow but searching and 26 3 27 Defendant attempted to argue more generally that the death of Plaintiff‘s mother was good and sufficient cause to revoke the petition in this case regardless of the regulation applied. 28 4 Defendant has not challenged the Court‘s jurisdiction to review USCIS‘s decision in this matter. 3 1 careful,‖ and courts need not uphold agency actions where ―there has been a clear error of 2 judgment.‖ Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 378 F.3d 1059, 1065 (9th 3 Cir. 2004) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). DISCUSSION 4 5 6 A. Overview & Arguments The INA imposes a numerical quota on the number of immigrant visas that may be issued 7 and the number of aliens who may otherwise be admitted into the United States for permanent 8 residence. See 8 U.S.C. § 1151(a). However, ―[t]he State Department prioritizes visa applications 9 made by ‗the unmarried sons or daughters of citizens of the United States.‘‖ Federiso v. Holder, 605 F.3d 695, 696 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting 8 U.S.C. § 1153(a)(1)). Specifically, the INA provides 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 that lawful permanent residents of the United States, under certain conditions, may petition USCIS 12 for classification of their alien son or daughter as an ―immediate relative.‖ 8 U.S.C. §§ 13 1153(a)(2)(B), 1154(a)(1)(B)(i). The lawful permanent resident must file a Form I-130 petition 14 seeking formal recognition by USCIS of the relationship. See 8 U.S.C. § 1154(a)(1)(B)(i); 8 15 C.F.R. § 204.1(a). The filing date of a petition constitutes the ―priority date‖ and establishes the 16 beneficiary‘s place in the queue for an immigrant visa. 8 C.F.R. § 204.1(b). 17 The USCIS must approve the petition and notify the State Department if USCIS 18 determines the facts of the petition are true and the listed beneficiary is an authorized immediate 19 relative of the petitioner. 8 U.S.C. § 1154(b). But approval of the petition does not guarantee the 20 alien will receive a visa. See Montoya v. Holder, 744 F.3d 614, 616 (9th Cir. 2014) (―[T]he mere 21 filing and approval of a Form I-130 creates no vested right.‖); Tongatapu Woodcraft Haw., Ltd. v. 22 Feldman, 736 F.2d 1305, 1308 (9th Cir. 1984) (―[A visa petition] does not guarantee that a visa 23 will be issued, nor does it grant the alien any right to remain in the United States.‖). Under 8 24 U.S.C. § 1155, ―[t]he Secretary of Homeland Security may, at any time, for what he deems to be 25 good and sufficient cause, revoke the approval of any petition approved by him under section 204. 26 Such revocation shall be effective as of the date of approval of any such petition.‖ 27 28 The INA gives the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (the ―Secretary‖) authority to promulgate regulations to administer the Act. See 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a)(1), 4 1 (3). The Secretary has consequently promulgated regulations identifying situations where the 2 revocation of an approved petition is automatic. 8 C.F.R. § 205.1. One such situation is the death 3 of the petitioner, if the death occurs before the beneficiary comes to the United States. 8 C.F.R. 4 § 205.1(a)(3)(i)(C). Any such revocation is effective as of the date of the approval of the petition. 5 8 C.F.R. § 205.1(a). Specifically, the relevant regulation applied by the USCIS in this case 6 provides in pertinent part: 7 (a) Reasons for automatic revocation. The approval of a petition or self-petition made under section 204 of the Act and in accordance with part 204 of this chapter is revoked as of the date of approval: ... (3) If any of the following circumstances occur before the beneficiary‘s or self-petitioner's journey to the United States commences or, if the beneficiary or self-petitioner is an applicant for adjustment of status to that of a permanent resident, before the decision on his or her adjustment application becomes final: (i) Immediate relative and family-sponsored petitions, other than Amerasian petitions. .... (C) Upon the death of the petitioner, unless: ... (2) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines, as a matter of discretion exercised for humanitarian reasons in light of the facts of a particular case, that it is inappropriate to revoke the approval of the petition. USCIS may make this determination only if the principal beneficiary of the visa petition asks for reinstatement of the approval of the petition and establishes that a person related to the principal beneficiary in one of the ways described in section 213A(f)(5)(B) of the Act is willing and able to file an affidavit of support under 8 CFR part 213a as a substitute sponsor. 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 8 C.F.R. § 205.1(a). Defendant asserts that ―[a]utomatic revocations pursuant to section 205.1(a) 20 were established under the notice-and-comment procedures of the APA and have been codified 21 under this regulation since January 1, 1977.‖ Def.‘s Mot. at 8-9 (citing Immigrant and 22 Nonimmigrant Status, 41 Fed. Reg. 55849 (Dec. 23, 1976) (codified at 8 C.F.R. § 205.1); see also 23 5 U.S.C. § 553(b)). In 2009, Congress changed the governing law with respect to an alien who is seeking an 24 25 immigration benefit through a deceased ―qualifying relative.‖ 8 U.S.C. § 1154(l).5 Section 204(l) 26 of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1154(l) (hereafter referred to as ―§ 1154(l)‖), as amended by § 568(d) of the 27 28 5 The Court italicizes the lower case letter ―L‖ to differentiate it from the number one (1). 5 1 DHS Appropriations Act, 2010, Public Law 111-83, 123 Stat. 2142, 2187-88 (2009), now 2 provides in relevant part that: 3 4 5 6 7 An alien described in paragraph (2) [which describes I-130 beneficiary petitions] who resided in the United States at the time of the death of the qualifying relative and who continues to reside in the United States shall have such petition . . . and any related applications, adjudicated notwithstanding the death of the qualifying relative, unless the Secretary of Homeland Security determines, in the unreviewable discretion of the Secretary, that approval would not be in the public interest. 8 8 U.S.C. § 1154(l)(1); see also Williams v. Sec’y, U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., 741 F.3d 1228, 9 1236 (11th Cir. 2014) (finding § 1154(l) alters 8 C.F.R. § 205.1(a)‘s automatic revocation procedures, albeit in a spousal revocation situation). In amending the Act, Congress noted in its 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Construction statement for § 1154(1) that ―[n]othing in the amendment made by paragraph (1) 12 [above] may be construed to limit or waive any ground of removal, basis for denial of petition or 13 application, or other criteria for adjudicating petitions or applications as otherwise provided under 14 the immigration laws of the United States other than ineligibility based solely on the lack of a 15 qualifying family relationship as specifically provided by such amendment.‖ P.L. 111-83, Title V, 16 § 568(d)(2) (2009). 17 The parties‘ arguments are as follows. Defendant argues (1) 8 C.F.R. § 205.1(a)(3)(C) 18 (hereafter ―§ 205.1(a)(3)(C)‖) permitted USCIS to automatically revoke a Plaintiff‘s I-130 petition 19 based on the death of her mother, the petitioner; (2) this long-standing regulation is the Secretary‘s 20 permissible interpretation of Congress‘ mandate under 8 U.S.C. § 1155 (hereafter ―§ 1155‖) that 21 the Secretary ―may, at any time, for what he deems to be good and sufficient cause, revoke the 22 approval of any petition approved by him under section 204‖; and (3) Congress has recently 23 implicitly reiterated the validity of this interpretation in § 1154(l), as it ―demonstrates a clear 24 congressional acknowledgment of the longstanding practice of denying petitions upon the death of 25 petitioners and congressional intent to allow for the continued processing of immigrant visas after 26 the petitioner‘s death only in cases where the beneficiary is in the United States.‖ Def.‘s Mot. at 27 6-12. Plaintiff, for her part, argues Defendant did not satisfy § 1155‘s ―good and sufficient cause‖ 28 test to revoke Plaintiff‘s petition because she remained Petitioner Li‘s daughter even after Li‘s 6 1 death and therefore she remained qualified for a visa. See Pl.‘s Mot. She further argues 2 § 205.1(a)(3)(C) is an impermissible interpretation of § 1155‘s ―good and sufficient cause‖ 3 standard and is not entitled to deference, and § 1154(l) does not show Congress‘s clear 4 understanding or intent to adopt that regulation. See id. & Pl.‘s Reply. 5 B. 6 Application of Chevron Test The Court must decide whether the death of Plaintiff‘s mother, the Petitioner, constitutes ―good and sufficient cause‖ to revoke the petition. To answer this question of statutory 8 interpretation, the Court follow the two-step framework laid out in Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. 9 Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984); Nat’l Cable & Telecomms. Ass’n v. Brand X 10 Internet Servs. (Brand X), 545 U.S. 967, 980 (2005) (―[A]mbiguities in statutes within an agency‘s 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 7 jurisdiction to administer are delegations of authority to the agency to fill the statutory gap in 12 reasonable fashion.‖). ―Under the first step, we determine ‗whether Congress has directly spoken 13 to the precise question at issue.‘‖ Humane Soc’y of U.S. v. Locke, 626 F.3d 1040, 1054 (9th Cir. 14 2010) (quoting Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842-43). ―If the intent of Congress is clear, our inquiry ends 15 and we give effect to Congress‘ unambiguously expressed intent.‖ Perez-Guzman v. Lynch, ___ 16 F.3d ___, No. 13-70579, 2016 WL 4536572, at *4 (9th Cir. Aug. 31, 2016) (citing Locke, 626 17 F.3d at 1054). ―If, on the other hand, Congress has not spoken to a particular issue or the statute is 18 ambiguous, we may consider the responsible agency‘s interpretation of the statutory scheme.‖ Id. 19 ―[I]f the implementing agency‘s construction is reasonable, Chevron requires a federal court to 20 accept the agency‘s construction of the statute, even if the agency‘s reading differs from what the 21 court believes is the best statutory interpretation.‖ Brand X, 545 U.S. at 980. 22 1. Step One of Chevron Analysis 23 Under the first step in the Chevron analysis, the Court ―begin[s] with the language of the 24 statute, reading it in context and giving undefined terms their ordinary meanings.‖ Perez-Guzman, 25 2016 WL 4536572, at *5 (citing CSX Transp., Inc. v. Ala. Dep’t of Revenue, 562 U.S. 277, 283-84 26 (2011); Synagogue v. United States, 482 F.3d 1058, 1061-62 (9th Cir. 2007)). The Court‘s ―goal 27 is to understand the statute ‗as a symmetrical and coherent regulatory scheme‘ and to ‗fit, if 28 possible, all parts into a harmonious whole.‘‖ Gila River Indian Cmty. v. United States, 729 F.3d 7 1 1139, 1145 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 2 133 (2000)). Section 1155 does not define ―good and sufficient cause,‖ and the INA is otherwise silent 4 about this standard. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with the Bureau of 5 Immigration Appeals‘ (―BIA‖) interpretation of § 1155‘s ―good and sufficient cause‖ as being 6 satisfied if ―the evidence of record at the time the decision was issued . . . warranted . . . [a] 7 denial‖ of the petition. Love Korean Church v. Chertoff, 549 F.3d 749, 754 n.3 (9th Cir. 2008) 8 (quoting Matter of Estime, 19 I. & N. Dec. 450, 452 (BIA 1987)); see Herrera v. U.S. Citizenship 9 & Immigration Servs., 571 F.3d 881, 886 (9th Cir. 2009) (adopting same BIA standard). Courts 10 thus review the agency‘s revocation as if it were an initial denial of the petition at issue.6 Love 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 3 Korean Church, 549 F.3d at 754 n.3 (citing Garcia-Quintero v. Gonzales, 455 F.3d 1006, 1012-13 12 (9th Cir. 2006)); Matter of Estime, 19 I. & N. Dec. at 450 (―In determining what is ‗good and 13 sufficient cause‘ for the issuance of a notice of intention to revoke, we ask whether the evidence of 14 record at the time the notice was issued, if unexplained and unrebutted, would have warranted a 15 denial based on the petitioner‘s failure to meet his or her burden of proof.‖). But Congress has not otherwise spoken on the precise issue before the Court. As the INA 16 17 itself does not define the specific grounds for revocation of a visa petition, USCIS is left to 18 interpret Congress‘s ambiguous ―good and sufficient cause‖ standard. And although § 1154(l) 19 describes instances where USCIS must not revoke such petitions, it does not affirmatively 20 establish when Congress finds revocation acceptable. The Court accordingly proceeds to 21 Chevron‘s second step, asking whether the agency‘s interpretation of an ambiguous statute is a 22 permissible construction of the statutory scheme. See Chevron, 467 U.S. at 843. 23 2. Step Two of Chevron Analysis 24 At step two of Chevron, courts must ―accept the agency‘s construction of the statute‖ so 25 long as that reading is reasonable, ―even if the agency‘s reading differs from what the court 26 believes is the best statutory interpretation.‖ Brand X, 545 U.S. at 980; see also Kyung Park v. 27 6 28 Defendant has not explained why USCIS established § 205.1(a)(3)(C) or why its authors believed this regulation conformed with § 1155‘s good and sufficient cause requirement. 8 1 Holder, 572 F.3d 619, 624 (9th Cir. 2009) (Chevron deference applicable where there is a binding 2 agency precedent on-point in the form of a regulation or published BIA case). Deference ―is 3 especially appropriate in the immigration context where officials ‗exercise especially sensitive 4 political functions that implicate questions of foreign relations.‘‖ INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre, 526 5 U.S. 415, 425 (1999) (quoting INS v. Abudu, 485 U.S. 94, 110 (1988)). 6 Plaintiff argues that deference is inappropriate in this case. She points out the Ninth Circuit (1) found that the son of a deceased U.S. citizen remained her child even after her death, 8 see Federiso v. Holder, 605 F.3d 695 (9th Cir. 2010), and (2) has indicated that the death of a 9 petitioner does not change the relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary merely because 10 of the petitioner‘s death, see Freeman v. Gonzales, 444 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2006). See Pl.‘s Mot. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 7 1-2. Plaintiff contends this case law shows USCIS‘s § 205.1(a)(3)(C) regulation is ultra vires and 12 that by enacting § 1154(l), Congress ―unequivocally endorsed‖ the understanding that the daughter 13 of a U.S. citizen continues to be a daughter even after the parent‘s death. Pl.‘s Reply at 2-4. Thus, 14 Plaintiff indicates Defendant‘s interpretation of § 1155 is impermissible. 15 The Court finds Plaintiff‘s arguments unpersuasive. First, Federiso and Freeman both 16 considered whether the government had properly interpreted the statutory definition of ―immediate 17 relative‖—not whether the death of the petitioner was grounds for revoking a visa petition, as in 18 this case. Neither case even mentions § 1155 or its ―good and sufficient cause‖ standard. Instead, 19 in Federiso, the Ninth Circuit held that under the INA, an alien son of a naturalized U.S. citizen 20 remained eligible for a discretionary waiver of deportability for fraud even though his U.S. citizen 21 mother had died. Federiso, 605 F.3d at 698 (assessing 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(i)(H)). And in 22 Freeman—a 2006 case, issued before the amendment to § 1154(l)—the Ninth Circuit held that an 23 alien whose citizen spouse died while her adjustment of status application was pending remained 24 an immediate relative, despite being widowed after less than two years of marriage. Freeman, 444 25 F.3d at 1043 (assessing 8 U.S.C. § 1151(b)(2)(A)(i)). While these cases persuasively indicate the 26 death of a U.S. citizen should not negatively impact all immigration decisions, they do not hold 27 broadly that the death of a petitioner such as the one in this case should have no impact or 28 consequences on the pending visa petition. 9 Second, the Court agrees with Plaintiff that § 1154(l) indicates Congress‘ recognition that 1 2 children of petitioners remain their children even after death; but the Court does not agree this 3 statute undermines Defendant‘s decision to revoke the petition in this case. Although Congress‘ 4 reasoning for amending the INA is unclear, it appears Congress recognized a petitioner‘s death 5 may be grounds for revocation of visa petitions in certain instances. Indeed, § 1154(l) effectively 6 prohibits revocation based on death of a petitioner when the beneficiary alien resides in the United 7 States at the time;7 however, but in doing so, Congress also noted that ―[n]othing in [§ 1154(l)(1)] 8 . . . may be construed to limit or waive any ground of removal, basis for denial of petition or 9 application, or other criteria for adjudicating petitions or applications as otherwise provided under the immigration laws of the United States other than ineligibility based solely on the lack of a 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 qualifying family relationship as specifically provided by such amendment.‖ P.L. 111-83, Title V, 12 § 568(d)(2) (2009). This construction appears to leave intact decades of decisions in which a 13 petitioner‘s death results in the automatic revocation of the visa petition when the beneficiary does 14 not reside in the United States. Equally significant is the fact that the plain language of this 15 provision limits the prohibition on revocation to those beneficiary aliens who reside in the United 16 States; if Congress intended otherwise, it would not have included such a limitation in the statute. 17 See In re Adinolfi, 543 B.R. 612, 621 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2016) (―The best source of information 18 about Congress‘ purpose is the words of the statutes it enacts.‖). While § 1154(l) does not 19 ambiguously establish Congress‘s intent under these circumstances, it does reinforce Defendant‘s 20 construction of the INA under the circumstances. The only other court that has confronted this issue arrived at the same conclusion. In 21 22 Desai v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., Case No. 14-593 DSF, Dkt. No. 40 (C.D. Cal., 23 filed July 24, 2015), the court found while that ―[t]he language of § 1154(l) does not provide 24 explicit statutory authority for denials of petitions on behalf of relatives of citizens who die while 25 the petition is pending[,] . . . . by creating an exception to that rule, it shows a clear Congressional 26 understanding of and intent to adopt the long-standing practice of the immigration agencies.‖ Id. 27 7 28 It appears Plaintiff does not qualify for this exception as she did not reside in the United States at the time of her mother‘s death. 10 1 at 2. The court reasoned that ―[t]he text of § 1154(l) indicates that Congress intends that certain 2 petitions be denied where the citizen sponsor has died unless the requirements of § 1154(l) are 3 met‖; consequently, ―[§] 1154(l) would make no sense if Congress did not approve of the general 4 practice of denying petitions where the citizen relative has died – there is no need for an exception 5 to a rule that does not properly exist.‖ Id. In light of the passage of § 1154(l), the court rejected 6 the application of Freeman and Federiso, and ultimately concluded that as the plaintiff never 7 resided in the United States and thus did not qualify for § 1154(l)‘s exception to revocation, the 8 Defendant had good and sufficient cause to revoke the visa petition. 9 In light of the foregoing, the Court finds Defendant‘s interpretation of § 1155‘s good and sufficient cause standard permissible and entitled to deference under the circumstances of this 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 case. Accordingly, the Court has no basis to overturn USCIS‘s revocation of the petition. CONCLUSION 12 13 Based on the analysis above, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendant‘s Motion for 14 Summary Judgment and DENIES Plaintiff‘s Motion for Summary Judgment. A separate order of 15 judgment is forthcoming. 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 18 19 20 Dated: September 21, 2016 ______________________________________ MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 11

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