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RAMOS v. ASHCROFT

January 15, 2004.

MARIA ROSA RAMOS, et. al, Plaintiff's,
v.
JOHN ASHCROFT, et al, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Both parties have fully briefed the issues in Defendant's Motion and it is now ripe for decision.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

  Eleven immigrant plaintiffs filed this class action complaint on November 15, 2002, on behalf of a class of immigrant plaintiffs who filed applications for adjustment of status under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationalization Act in the Chicago District Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) between January 29, 1997, and April 13, 2001 The complaint challenges the policies of the Chicago District Office of the INS relating to the processing of applications for adjustment of status under Section 245(i). Subsequent to the processing of these applications, the Chicago office relied on the information in the applications for adjustment of status to initiate investigations and removal proceedings against the unsuccessful applicants. Page 2

  The Court will again review the law governing the applications for adjustment of status under Section 245(i). In 1994, Congress enacted Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationalization Act to permit undocumented immigrants already in the United States to stabilize their immigration status if they were related to persons who were in the United States legally, See 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i). Although it was not referred to as an amnesty program, for those undocumented immigrants who qualified for an adjustment of status under § 245(i), it had the effect of excusing their undocumented entry to the United States. The qualifying relative could file an immediate relative visa petition on behalf of the undocumented relative (INS form I-130). Once the petition was filed and approved, the undocumented relative could submit the application for adjustment of status (INS form I-485). If a visa was immediately available to the applicant, the application could be approved at the. discretion of the Attorney General and the undocumented relative could obtain a work authorization.

  Plaintiffs allege that the acceptance and processing of these applications in the Chicago District Office during the class period was improper under the regulatory scheme. They contend that the applications should not have been processed under the statute and accompanying regulations unless a visa was immediately available to the applicant. Defendants assert that the Plaintiffs' reading of the immigration statutes and regulations is incorrect. They contend that the sole proper consequence of filing an application for adjustment of status when a visa was not immediately available is to deny the application.

  Defendants previously moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. On September 30, 2003, this Court denied that motion in a written order. See Ramos v. Ashcroft, No. 02 C 8266, 2003 WL 22282521 (N.D. Ill., Sept. 30, 2003). Defendants now seek to dismiss Page 3 the Complaint for failure to state a claim. Their Motion to Dismiss states several grounds for dismissal First, they contend that the actions of the Chicago District Office were proper under the statute Second, they contend that Plaintiffs' constitutional claims cannot be sustained as a matter of law. Finally, they assert that the Plaintiffs are ineligible for the injunctive relief that they seek in their Complaint.

  II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

  In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the district court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Transit Exp. Inc. v. Ettinger, 246 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 2001) The district court should not grant a motion to dismiss "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).

  III. DISCUSSION

  The central dispute between the parties in this case revolves around an interpretation of the statutes and regulations that govern the acceptance and processing of Applications for Adjustment of Status under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i). The Court will begin its discussion there and then it will move on to discuss the constitutional allegations in the Complaint and the possibility of injunctive relief.

  A. Count I: Violation of the Administrative Procedures Act

  Plaintiff's allege in Count I that the policies and practices of the Chicago District Office of the INS with respect to the applications for adjustment of status violated the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706. In order to survive a motion to dismiss, this complaint Page 4 under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) must allege that the challenged federal agency action was ...


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