Sanjel v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
ORDER granting 38 Letter Motion to Stay re: 38 LETTER MOTION to Stay the government's response to the plaintiff's amended complaint for 60 days, conferred and agreed to by the parties. addressed to Magistrate Judge Val erie Figueredo from SAUSA Jacqueline Roman dated 05/06/202. Application Granted. The stay is hereby extended to Tuesday, July 5, 2022. At that time, the parties are directed to submit a status letter to the Court, with proposed next steps. (Signed by Magistrate Judge Valerie Figueredo on 5/9/2022) (rro)
Case 1:19-cv-10347-LTS-VF Document 39 Filed 05/09/22 Page 1 of 3
U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
86 Chambers Street
New York, New York 10007
Hon. Valerie Figueredo
United States Magistrate Judge
United States District Court
500 Pearl Street
New York, New York 10007
May 6, 2022
Sanjel v. USCIS, No. 19 Civ. 10347 (LTS) (VF)
Dear Judge Figueredo:
The stay is hereby extended to Tuesday, July 5, 2022. At
that time, the parties are directed to submit a status letter
to the Court, with proposed next steps.
This Office represents the government in the above-referenced action in which the plaintiff
seeks review of the denial of his Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
(Form I-485) filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). On March 14,
2022, the Court granted an on-consent request to stay this matter for sixty days to allow USCIS an
opportunity to review the policy underlying this dispute and determine subsequent agency action
that may render this case moot. See ECF 37.
As explained in the government’s March 7, 2022, letter, see ECF No. 36, the plaintiff is
subject to a removal order but has been accorded Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”). A central
issue in this case is the legal effect of the plaintiff’s travel and return to the United States pursuant
to a grant of advance parole. Under the government’s current interpretation of 8 U.S.C. §
1254a(f)(3) and section 304(c) of the Miscellaneous and Technical Immigration and Naturalization
Amendments of 1991 (“MTINA”), such travel by an individual with TPS does not execute a
removal order, and thus, the plaintiff remains in the status he had before he travelled—i.e., a
noncitizen with a removal order. It is the government’s current position that, in these
circumstances, the immigration judge has exclusive jurisdiction over whether the plaintiff can
adjust status, and therefore, USCIS cannot adjudicate a Form I-485. See 8 C.F.R.
§§ 1240.1(a)(1)(ii), 1245.2(a)(1)(i) (granting “exclusive jurisdiction” to the immigration court
following commencement of removal proceedings). Also, it is the government’s position that
under the current interpretation of MTINA, the plaintiff is barred from an adjustment of status
because his travel and return pursuant to a grant of advanced parole did not constitute a lawful
admission, and therefore, he has “failed to maintain, continuously, a lawful status.” See 8 U.S.C.
USCIS is continuing to actively reevaluate its position on these key issues. Notably, on
February 2, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order directing the Department of
Homeland Security to, inter alia, “review existing regulations, orders, guidance documents,
policies, and any other similar agency actions” and to “identify barriers that impede access to
immigration benefits and fair, efficient adjudications of these benefits and make recommendations
on how to remove these barriers, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.” Executive
Order 14012, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration
and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,” 86 Fed. Reg. 8277 (Feb. 2, 2021). The government’s
interpretation of MTINA falls within the scope of that Executive Order, and thus, it is currently
under active review by USCIS. USCIS also recently posted information on its website that
provides some guidance to noncitizens with outstanding removal orders who are seeking
Case 1:19-cv-10347-LTS-VF Document 39 Filed 05/09/22 Page 2 of 3
adjustment of status. See https://www.uscis.gov/laws-and-policy/other-resources/class-actionsettlement-notices-and-agreements/certain-temporary-protected-status-tps-recipients-withorders-of-removal-or-deportation-seeking (last accessed May 6, 2022).
In addition to this review process, there are currently two cases certified to USCIS’s
Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”) that concern the legal effect of a TPS recipient’s travel
and return to the United States under 8 U.S.C. § 1254a(f)(3) and section 304(c) of MTINA. The
AAO cases concern whether a TPS recipient returning to the United States is properly considered
to have been inspected and admitted (and thus potentially eligible for adjustment of status), which
is not USCIS’s current policy. The plaintiffs in each of those cases also filed APA suits in district
court, but both have been dismissed in light of the pendency of the AAO appeals. See Amaya v.
Borgen, No. 20 Civ. 4616 (EK), 2021 WL 5866485 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 10, 2021) (dismissing
challenge based on lack of final agency action where USCIS certified decision to the AAO and
that matter remains pending with the AAO), appeal docketed, 21-3143 (2d Cir. 2021); Quintanilla
v. Wolf, No. 20 Civ. 4944 (EEB), 2021 WL 4350346 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 20, 2021) (dismissing
challenge pending AAO decision). Another APA case raising a similar challenge is currently
stayed pending USCIS’s evaluation of the policy at issue here. See Bhujel v. Nielson, No. 18 Civ.
12644 (LTS), ECF Nos. 35-39 (D. Mass. 2021).
The government respectfully submits that it is in the interest of efficiency and conservation
of resources for the Court to continue to stay this case for an additional sixty days to allow this
review process to progress. “The power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in
every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort
for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). Here,
because USCIS is actively reviewing a policy that is central to the issue presented in this case, and
because the legal question presented here is related to the questions currently certified and pending
before the AAO, it would be prudent to hold this action in abeyance to avoid unnecessary motion
practice and thus preserve judicial and party resources, particularly where the conclusion of either
USCIS’s review or the AAO’s decisions may result in a change to the policy or USCIS’s
interpretation of the law, which would render this action moot. See, e.g., Fareportal Inc. v.
Travana, Inc., Nos. 16 Civ. 9882 (ALC), 17 Civ. 968 (ALC), 2017 WL 11512550, at *2 (S.D.N.Y.
Sept. 25, 2017) (“The outcome of that expert’s analysis may eliminate Fareportal’s claims here, or
at least significantly reduce the scope of the actions pending before this Court. Given this potential
efficiency, the Court will stay this action under its inherent authority to manage its own docket in
an efficient manner.”). 1 Plaintiff consents to this request.
In the event that the Court denies the parties’ stay request, the parties will submit a letter with a
proposed schedule for briefing of the government’s anticipated motion to dismiss within ten
business days. In such event, the parties do not anticipate the need for an administrative record.
Case 1:19-cv-10347-LTS-VF Document 39 Filed 05/09/22 Page 3 of 3
I thank the Court for its consideration of this request.
United States Attorney
cc: Counsel of record (via ECF)
s/ Jacqueline Roman
Special Assistant United States Attorney
86 Chambers Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10007
Telephone: (347) 714-3363
Attorney for Defendant
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?