The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge
Plaintiff, an inmate in the Federal Correction Institution in Greenville, Illinois, brings this action seeking a declaratory judgment as to his citizenship status pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Plaintiff previously was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and he has tendered his initial partial filing fee as ordered.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:
(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim may not be dismissed at this point in the litigation.
Plaintiff, serving a federal sentence on a drug conviction, states that Defendants have lodged a detainer against him which may lead to deportation at the expiration of his sentence. Plaintiff states that he entered the United States from Mexico in 1974 as a child with his parents, who were later lawfully naturalized. He argues that he should not be deported because by statute (8 U.S.C. § 1431(a)) he became a naturalized citizen at the time of the naturalization of one or both of his parents. Plaintiff states he has been in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for over thirty years, he believed himself to be a naturalized citizen, and he has no known relatives in Mexico. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment as to his citizenship status.
Under the Declaratory Judgment Act, federal courts have the power to make declarations regarding "the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration." 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Specifically, a party may "seek a declaration of the constitutionality of [a] disputed governmental action before potentially uncompensable damages are sustained." Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc., 438 U.S. 59, 71 n. 15 (1978). Federal courts, however, may not exercise this power unless there exists between the parties an "actual case or controversy" as required for federal courts to establish jurisdiction in Article III of the constitution. See Deveraux v. The City of Chicago, 14 F.3d 328, 330-31 (7th Cir. 1994). "The controversy must be definite and concrete, touching the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests. It must be a real and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical set of facts." Id. at 331, (quoting Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 240-41 (1937)).
Based upon these legal standards, the Court cannot find that Plaintiff has not stated an "actual case or controversy" ripe for declaratory judgment. Accordingly, Plaintiff shall be allowed to proceed on the sole count of the complaint against the ...