Tetteh v. Blinken

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA _________________________________________ ) JANET AKWELEY TETTEH, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) Case No. 22-cv-02208 (APM) ) ANTHONY BLINKEN, ) ) Defendant. ) _________________________________________ ) MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER I. Plaintiff Janet Akweley Tetteh, a 2022 diversity visa selectee, asks the court to enter a preliminary injunction requiring Defendant to schedule her for an interview with a consular officer before September 30, 2022, the end of the fiscal year. Pl.’s Mot. for a Prelim. Inj. or Summ. J. in the Alternative, ECF No. 4 [hereafter Pl.’s Mot.], Pl.’s Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Pl.’s Mot., ECF No. 4-1 [hereinafter Pl.’s Mem.]. She seeks injunctive relief on one primary ground: the State Department, acting through the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana, has unreasonably delayed in scheduling her for an interview, in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 706(1). See Pl.’s Mem. at 11–21. Because Plaintiff has not shown a substantial likelihood of success on that claim, or on her alternative claim of agency action unlawfully withheld, her motion is denied. See Greater New Orleans Fair Hous. Action Ctr. v. Dep’t of Hous. & Urb. Dev., 639 F.3d 1078, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (“[W]hen a plaintiff has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits, there is no need to consider the remaining [preliminary injunction] factors.”). II. Before reaching the merits, the court must address its jurisdiction. Defendant moves to dismiss on the ground that Plaintiff lacks standing. See Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss Pl.’s Compl., ECF No. 8, Def.’s Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Def.’s Mot., or in the Alternative, for Summ. J. in Part and Def’s Opp’n to Pl.’s Mot. for Prelim. Inj., ECF No. 8-1 [hereinafter Def.’s Opp’n], at 17– 21. The court disagrees. In evaluating standing, the court must assume the merits of Plaintiff’s unreasonable delay claim. See Est. of Boyland v. Dep't of Agric., 913 F.3d 117, 123 (D.C. Cir. 2019). That means the court here must operate from the premise that the State Department has unreasonably delayed in granting her a diversity visa interview. With that assumption in place, it is easy to see that the denial of a procedural right—the interview—necessarily will result in the impairment of a concrete interest—securing a diversity visa—because a diversity visa will not issue absent an in-person interview before a consular officer. See 8 U.S.C. § 1202(e) (stating “each application for an immigrant visa shall be signed by the applicant in the presence of the consular officer”). And once an applicant for an immigrant visa is before a consular officer, if the applicant “meets the criteria to obtain one, the State Department ‘shall’ issue him a diversity visa.” Almaqrami v. Pompeo, 933 F.3d 774, 777 (D.C. Cir. 2019) (quoting 8 U.S.C. § 1153(c)). Defendant offers no reason why Plaintiff has not met the criteria for a diversity visa. Therefore, denying her an interview is a de facto denial of a diversity visa. She thus has standing. …

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