Kanghawa v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ____________________________________ ) BRINA N. KANGHAWA, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) Civil Action No. 21-1386 (PLF) ) U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND ) SECURITY, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ____________________________________) OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiff Brina N. Kanghawa (“Ms. K”) entered the United States in February 2019 to seek asylum from persecution in her home country of Cameroon. See Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Mandamus (“Compl.”) [Dkt. No. 1] at ¶ 54. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) apprehended Ms. K and placed her in expedited removal, at which time Ms. K expressed fear of persecution and stated that she intended to apply for asylum. Id. at ¶ 55-56. ICE released her from custody and issued a Notice to Appear (“NTA”). Id. at ¶ 56. Beginning in January 2020, Ms. K attempted to apply for asylum by filing a Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal) with both the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”). See id. at ¶ 3. Both agencies rejected Ms. K’s application due to an apparent administrative oversight, which stemmed from the fact that ICE never filed the NTA with an immigration court. Id. at ¶ 4; see also Defendants’ Motion and Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (“Def. Mot.”) [Dkt. No. 17] at 3-4 (page numbering based on ECF stamp). Ms. K filed a civil complaint in this Court on May 19, 2021, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and attorney’s fees. See Compl. at 25-26. On August 27, 2021, defendants U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al. moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See Def. Mot. Defendants argue that because Ms. K now has successfully applied for asylum, her application was accepted as timely, and she was granted employment authorization, the relief sought by Ms. K is moot. See id. at 5; see also Joint Status Report (“JSR”) [Dkt. No. 20] at 3-4. Ms. K opposes the motion and maintains that the action is not moot because she has a live claim for declaratory relief. See JSR at 3. Upon careful consideration of the parties’ written submissions, the relevant legal authorities, and the entire record in this case, the Court will grant defendants’ motion to dismiss. 1 I. BACKGROUND A. U.S. Asylum Laws The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), enacted in 1952, provides that any noncitizen who is physically present in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival), may apply for asylum irrespective of their immigration status. 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(1). The INA further states that “[t]he Attorney General shall establish a procedure for the consideration of asylum applications filed under subsection (a).” Id. § 1158(d)(1); see also 1 The Court considered the following documents and accompanying attachments and exhibits in resolving the pending motion: Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and …

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