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Memon v. Thompson

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 18, 2014

HAJI MEMON, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN THOMPSON, Director, USCIS, Newark, New Jersey; UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES; Defendants.

OPINION

JOSE L. LINARES, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon the Motion of Defendants John Thompson and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") (collectively "Defendants") to Dismiss the Complaint of Plaintiff Haji Memon ("Plaintiff") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for Summary Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). [CM/ECF No. 4.] The Court has considered the submissions made in support of and in opposition to Defendants' Motion, and decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78. Based on the following and for the reasons expressed herein. Defendants' motion is granted. Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a lawful permanent resident of the United States and a native and citizen of India. (Compl. ¶ 3.) He resides in Piscataway, New Jersey. ( Id. ) Plaintiff obtained permanent resident status on July 1, 2007, through his employment. (Docket #4, Ex. C at 2.) Defendant Thompson is the District Director for the Newark District of USCIS. ( Id. ¶ 4.)

On September 8, 2009, Plaintiff pled guilty to committing a fraud on the IRS under 26 U.S.C. 7206(1). (Docket #4, Ex. C at 2.) Said fraud caused a loss to the Government that exceeded $10, 000. ( Id. ) At the time that Plaintiff entered his guilty plea, a conviction under 26 U.S.C. 7206(1) was not an aggravated felony in the Third Circuit. In February 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States held that a conviction under this section of the U.S. Code is an aggravated felony. Kawashima v. Holder, 132 S.Ct. 1166, 1172, reh'g denied, 132 S.Ct. 1961 (2012).

On or about June 12, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization ("N-400") with USCIS. (Docket #4, Ex. C at 2.) On May 18, 2013 USCIS denied Plaintiff's N-400, finding that Plaintiff's September 8, 2009 conviction under 26 U.S.C. 7206(1) precluded him establishing eligibility to naturalize. ( Id. ) In this decision, the USCIS relied on Kawashima. ( Id. ) Plaintiff appealed this decision, and the USCIS affirmed its denial on February 25, 2014. (Compl. ¶ 6.)

Plaintiff filed a two-count Complaint against Defendants on June 6, 2014. (Docket #1.) Count one alleges that the denial of Plaintiff's naturalization "was legally and factually erroneous in that... [P]laintiff had actually overpaid the Internal Revenue Service ["IRS"] so that there was no loss greater than $10, 000." (Compl. ¶ 8.) Count two alleges that the denial of Plaintiff's naturalization "was legally and factually erroneous in the retroactive application of [ Kawashima ].'" ( Id. ¶ 10.) Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the alterative, for Summary Judgment on August 8, 2014.[1] (Docket #4.) This Court has jurisdiction to conduct a de novo review of the denial of Plaintiff's application for naturalization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

For a complaint to survive dismissal, it "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.

In determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008). But, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Thus, legal conclusions draped in the guise of factual allegations may not benefit from the presumption of truthfulness. Id.

III. DISCUSSION

A lawful permanent resident alien is eligible for naturalization as a United States Citizen if he (i) has resided continuously in the United States for five years after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence, (ii) "has resided continuously within the United States from the date of the application up to the time of admission to citizenship, " and (iii) during all relevant time periods, "has been and still is a person of good moral character." 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a). If an individual's application for naturalization is denied, after a hearing before an immigration officer the applicant can seek judicial review in the United States district court for the district in which he resides. 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c).

Plaintiff bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he meets the above requirements for naturalization. 8 C.F.R. § 316.2(b). Under the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), "[n]o person shall be regarded as, or found to be, a person of good moral character who, during the period for which good moral character is required to be established, is, or was... one who at any time has been convicted of an aggravated felony." 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f)(8). Under 8 U.S.C. § 101(a)(43)(M)(i), a crime under 28 U.S.C. § 7201 is an aggravated felony if the revenue loss exceeds $10, 000. In Kawashima, the United States Supreme Court confirmed that "convictions under 26 ...


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