United States District Court, E.D. New York
ROGELIO E. HEADLEY-OMBLER, Plaintiff,
ERIC HOLDER, United States Attorney General, JANET NAPOLITANO, Secretary of Homeland Security, and DIRECTOR of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of Buffalo, and New York City District of New York, Defendants
Rogelio E. Headley-Ombler, Petitioner, Pro se, Panama.
For Rogelio E. Headley-Ombler, Petitioner: Michael C Rakower, Law Office of Michael C. Rakower, P.C., New York, NY.
For Eric Holder, United States Attorney General, Jane Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of Buffalo and New York City District of New York, Respondents: Margaret M. Kolbe, United States Attorneys Office, Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn, NY.
DECISION AND ORDER
HON. WILLIAM F. KUNTZ, II, United States District Judge.
Rogelio E. Headley-Ombler (" Plaintiff" ) commenced this action against Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
(" USCIS" ) of Buffalo and the New York City District of New York (collectively " Defendants" ), seeking judicial review of the denial of his Form N-600 application for a certificate of citizenship, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c), and a declaratory judgment of United States nationality, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1503(a). Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's action pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, respectively. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendants' motion and dismisses this action with prejudice.
I. Plaintiff's Personal Background
Plaintiff was born in Panama on September 6, 1970, and was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident in January 1981. A178. On November 9, 1988--two months after Plaintiff's eighteenth birthday--Plaintiff's mother became a naturalized citizen of the United States. A31. According to Plaintiff, his mother's petition for naturalization was " approved" prior to Plaintiff's eighteenth birthday. Dkt. No. 1 (Compl.) at 4. However, Plaintiff asserts his mother was not scheduled for a naturalization ceremony until after Plaintiff's eighteenth birthday. Id.
In 1991, Plaintiff was convicted of first-degree assault in New York state court and sentenced to an imprisonment term of one-and-one-half to four-and-one-half years. A125-30. That conviction arose from an incident in which Plaintiff shot an individual in the groin. Compl., Ex. 2 (Br. for Resp't, Headley-Ombler v. Holder, 131 S.Ct. 71, 178 L.Ed.2d 246 (2010) (No. 09-9804)) (" AG Br." ) at 5.
II. The Removal Proceedings
Based on that conviction,, while Plaintiff was serving his sentence, in April 1997, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (" INS" ) placed Plaintiff in removal proceedings and charged him with removability under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony. A179-81.
During removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge (" IJ" ), Plaintiff claimed to have derived citizenship through his mother's naturalization. A154-55, A162-63, A172-73. The IJ granted Plaintiff two continuances to give Plaintiff time to collect and present evidence substantiating his claim of citizenship. AG Br. at 6. Nevertheless, Plaintiff did not produce any evidence supporting his claim of derivative citizenship. Id. On July 7, 1998, the IJ ordered Plaintiff removed from the United States, determining that he had failed to provide evidence of derivative citizenship and that Plaintiff was not eligible for relief from removal. A139-45. Plaintiff appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (" BIA" ), again arguing that he derived citizenship through his mother's naturalization. A136-37. On January 28, 1999, the BIA dismissed Plaintiff's appeal, emphasizing Plaintiff's lack of evidence and noting the IJ's " extraordinary amount of patience with [Plaintiff] in regard to" Plaintiff's derivative citizenship defense. A136. The BIA also advised
Plaintiff that if he obtained evidence of his derivative citizenship, he could file a motion to reopen with the BIA. A137.
On January 20, 2000, Plaintiff filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Southern District of New York. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Headley v. Dep't of Justice, 00 Civ. 392 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 20, 2000) (Hellerstein, J.), ECF No. 1. Plaintiff and the Government agreed to a stipulated remand to the BIA to determine whether Plaintiff was eligible for relief under former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(c), in light of INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289, 121 S.Ct. 2271, 150 L.Ed.2d 347 (2001). A131. On May 22, 2002, the BIA remanded Plaintiff's case to the IJ. A133-34. On December 12, 2002, the IJ found Plaintiff was ineligible for Section 212(c) relief and ordered his removal from the United States. A84-85. On May 29, 2003, the BIA dismissed Plaintiff's appeal from the IJ's decision. A186-88. Plaintiff did not make any citizenship claims in these later proceedings before the IJ or the BIA.
On May 18, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion with the BIA to reopen his case and terminate removal proceedings, again contending he had acquired derivative citizenship when his mother became a naturalized citizen. A34-46. Plaintiff provided a certificate of naturalization showing his mother had been naturalized on November 9, 1988, two months after Plaintiff's eighteenth birthday. A48. Plaintiff argued the Government's administrative delay in processing his mother's naturalization application, such that she was naturalized after he turned eighteen, violated his due process and equal protection rights, and that the Government should be stopped from denying his naturalization application. A40-43. On June 26, 2009, the BIA denied Plaintiff's motion to reopen on timeliness grounds, noting Plaintiff had filed the motion six years after the BIA's original decision. A83 (citing 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(b)(2), (c)(2) (90-day filing deadline)). Nor was the BIA, after considering Plaintiff's evidence and arguments, persuaded to reopen or reconsider its earlier decision sua sponte. Id .
The Second Circuit denied Plaintiff's petition for review of the BIA's decision as lacking " an arguable basis in law or fact." See AG Br. at 11. On November 30, 2009, Plaintiff filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was placed on the docket on March 25, 2010. Compl. at 30. In his brief opposing Plaintiff's petition, the Attorney General noted that Plaintiff " is not precluded from applying to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a certificate of citizenship." AG Br. at 19 n.7. The Supreme Court ultimately denied Plaintiff's petition. See Headley-Ombler v. Holder, No. 09-9804, 131 S.Ct. 71, 178 L.Ed.2d 246 (Oct. 4, 2010).
III. Plaintiff's Application for a Certificate of Citizenship
On March 21, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Form N-600 application for a certificate of citizenship on the basis of derivative citizenship through his mother's naturalization. A22-31. On August 25, 2011, USCIS denied Plaintiff's application, and Plaintiff acknowledged personal service of the decision on October 14, 2011. A11-18. Plaintiff filed an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (" AAO" ) on November 7, 2011, but the AAO did not receive the appeal until November 15, 2011. A5, A19-21. On December 2, 2011, the AAO rejected Plaintiff's appeal as untimely. A4-5. On December 28, 2011, USCIS determined that Plaintiff's appeal, if construed as a motion to reopen, would be denied for
failure to present new evidence or demonstrate ...