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ZHENG, v. RENO

September 28, 2001

ZHENG, HUI JIN A/K/A/ ZHENG, HIU TIN ALIEN NUMBER A 72 437 767, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JANET RENO, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John G. Koeltl, District Judge.

  OPINION AND ORDER

The plaintiff, Hui Jin Zheng, seeks a writ of mandamus and a declaratory judgment requiring the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") to schedule an interview regarding her application for adjustment of her immigration status. She alleged jurisdiction in her complaint under the declaratory judgment statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2201; under the mandamus statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1361; and under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et. seq. In her papers on this motion, she also contends that there is jurisdiction over a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Government has moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6). The plaintiff has made a crossmotion for sununary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

I.

The following facts are undisputed for purposes of these motions unless otherwise noted. The plaintiff is a citizen and national of the People's Republic of China living in New York City. (Compl. Ex. 1.) She entered the United States without INS inspection at New York City in December 1992. (Compl. Ex. 1.) At some point thereafter, an Immigration Judge ordered her excluded from the United States. However, the plaintiff did not leave the country in compliance with the exclusion order. (See Compl. ¶ IV, Ex. 2.)

On December 23, 1997, the plaintiff applied to the INS for an adjustment of her immigration status to that of a permanent resident of the United States pursuant to former section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 11255 (i). (Compl. ¶ IV, Ex. 1). The INS scheduled an interview with the plaintiff regarding her application for adjustment for June 28, 1999, but cancelled the interview after learning of the outstanding order of exclusion against the plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ IV.) The plaintiff then filed a motion to reopen the exclusion proceedings, which was granted on February 9, 2000. (Compl. ¶ IV, Ex. 2.)

In the following months, the plaintiff made several inquiries regarding a new interview date for her adjustment application. She sent four inquiries to the INS, two to a Special Assistant United States Attorney, and one to the INS District Counsel's Office. (Compl. ¶ V.) She allegedly received no response to any of these inquiries and still has not received a new interview date. (Compl. ¶ V.) Finally, on November 16, 2000, the plaintiff filed this action seeking to compel the INS to schedule an interview date regarding her adjustment application.

II.

On a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations contained in the complaint are accepted as true. See Conboy v. AT&T Corp., 241 F.3d 242, 246 (2d Cir. 2001). In deciding a motion to dismiss, all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the plaintiff's favor. See Conboy, 241 F.3d at 246; Gant v. Wallingford Bd. of Educ., 69 F.3d 669, 673 (2d Cir. 1995); Cosmas v. Hasset, 886 F.2d 8, 11 (2d Cir. 1989). The Court's function on a motion to dismiss is "not to weigh the evidence that might be presented at trial but merely to determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient." Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985). Therefore, the defendant's motion should only be granted if it appears that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of her claim that would entitle her to relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Connolly v. McCall, 254 F.3d 36, 40 (2d Cir. 2001); see also Goldman, 754 F.2d at 1065.

When a party challenges the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, the Court may in its discretion decide the question on the basis of affidavits or hold an evidentiary hearing. See Vapac Music Pub., Inc. v. Ruff 'N' Tumble Mgmt., No. 99 Civ. 10656, 2000 WL 1006257, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 19, 2000). "Where, however," as here, "the district court relies solely on the pleadings and supporting affidavits, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction." Robinson v. Overseas Military Sales Corp., 21 F.3d 502, 507 (2d Cir. 1994).

In its motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), the Government argues that none of the statutes that the plaintiff relies upon in her complaint confer jurisdiction upon this Court to compel the INS to schedule an adjustment interview. In her reply brief, the plaintiff continues to maintain that jurisdiction lies under the mandamus statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, and under the APA. She no longer maintains that jurisdiction lies under the declaratory judgment statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, but she has added a new alleged basis for jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, for jurisdiction over a federal question. With respect to federal question jurisdiction, the plaintiff asserts that the federal question at issue is the interpretation of the APA itself, specifically 5 U.S.C. § 706, which states that federal courts "shall . . . compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed . . . ."

A.

The declaratory judgment statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, is not an independent basis for subject matter jurisdiction in the district courts. Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 339 U.S. 667, 671-72 (1950); Fleet Bank, N.A. v. Burke, 160 F.3d 883, 886 (2d Cir. 1998). In her reply papers, the plaintiff no longer contends that the declaratory judgment statute confers subject matter jurisdiction, and there is no basis for jurisdiction under this statute.

B.

The APA itself does not confer jurisdiction on a district court to review the decision of an administrative agency. Califano v. Sanders, 430 U.S. 99, 107 (1977); Clark v. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 170 F.3d 110, 113 n. 1 (2d Cir. 1999); B.K. Instrument, Inc. v. United States, 715 F.2d 713, 723 (2d Cir. 1983). However, a district court may have subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1331 over a claim that an agency has violated the APA. Califano, 430 U.S. at 105; Clark, 170 ...


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