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Eguchi v. Kelly

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

July 7, 2017

MARCO EGUCHI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN F. KELLY, et al, Defendants.

         *This memorandum opinion and order was filed under seal on June 23, 2017 and is now being unsealed and filed as a public document.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SIDNEY A. FITZWATER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this action by plaintiffs Marco Eguchi (“Eguchi”) and Amanda Eguchi against defendants John F. Kelly, Donald Neufeld, James McCament, and Mark Hazuda (collectively, “CIS”), [1] Eguchi challenges a decision of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) denying his Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) as an alien of extraordinary ability. Concluding on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment that CIS's decision was arbitrary or capricious, the court grants Eguchi's motion, denies CIS's motion, and remands this matter to CIS for further proceedings consistent with this memorandum opinion and order.

         I

         Eguchi is a Brazilian citizen and professional bull rider.[2] Since 2012 Eguchi has competed full-time in the United States with Professional Bull Riders (“PBR”), the world's premier bull riding association. In 2015 Eguchi filed with CIS a Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker and a Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status, seeking relief on the basis that he qualifies as an alien of extraordinary ability who warrants preferential treatment in visa issuance. CIS later issued a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) seeking additional evidence to support Eguchi's petition, with which Eguchi complied, and denied his petition. Eguchi appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office, which upheld the denial of his petition.

         Eguchi now brings this action challenging CIS's decision. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, presenting the question whether Eguchi has established that CIS's decision was arbitrary, capricious, or not otherwise in accordance with law.

         II

         When a summary judgment movant will not have the burden of proof on a claim, it can obtain summary judgment by pointing the court to the absence of evidence on any essential element of the nonmovant's claim. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once it does so, the nonmovant must go beyond his pleadings and designate specific facts demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Id. at 324; Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc) (per curiam). An issue is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The nonmovant's failure to produce proof as to any essential element renders all other facts immaterial. See TruGreen Landcare, L.L.C. v. Scott, 512 F.Supp.2d 613, 623 (N.D. Tex. 2007) (Fitzwater, J.). Summary judgment is mandatory where the nonmovant fails to meet this burden. Little, 37 F.3d at 1076.

         To be entitled to summary judgment on a claim on which the moving party will have the burden of proof, the party “must establish ‘beyond peradventure all of the essential elements of the claim[.]'” Bank One, Tex., N.A. v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 878 F.Supp. 943, 962 (N.D. Tex. 1995) (Fitzwater, J.) (quoting Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1194 (5th Cir. 1986)). This means that the moving party must demonstrate that there are no genuine and material fact disputes and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. See Martin v. Alamo Cmty. Coll. Dist., 353 F.3d 409, 412 (5th Cir. 2003). “The court has noted that the ‘beyond peradventure' standard is ‘heavy.'” Carolina Cas. Ins. Co. v. Sowell, 603 F.Supp.2d 914, 923-24 (N.D. Tex. 2009) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (quoting Cont'l Cas. Co. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 2007 WL 2403656, at *10 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 23, 2007) (Fitzwater, J.)).

         III

         Eguchi contends that, as a matter of law, CIS's denial of his I-140 petition was arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.[3]

         A

         The court reviews CIS decisions under § 706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). “An agency decision can be overturned only if a plaintiff can demonstrate that the decision was ‘arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.'” Hassani v. Napolitano, 2009 WL 2044596, at *2 (N.D. Tex. July 15, 2009) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (quoting Boi Na Braza Atlanta, LLC v. Upchurch, 2005 WL 2372846, at *5 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 27, 2005) (Lindsay, J.) (quoting § 706(2)(A))). “A decision is arbitrary or capricious only when it is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise.” Wilson v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 991 F.2d 1211, 1215 (5th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted). “A decision is not arbitrary or capricious if the agency considers the relevant factors and ‘articulates a rational relationship between the facts found and the choice made.'” Willingham v. Dep't of Labor, 475 F.Supp.2d, 607, 612 (N.D. Tex. 2007) (Robinson, J.) (quoting Louisiana ex rel. Guste v. Verity, 853 F.2d 322, 327 (5th Cir. 1988)). Although the court must ensure that CIS engaged in “reasoned decisionmaking” in denying his petition, CIS “is entitled to considerable deference in its interpretation of the governing statute.” Boi Na Braza Atlanta, 2005 WL 2372846, at *2 (quoting Nat'l Hand Tool Corp. v. Pasquarell, 889 F.2d 1472, 1475 (5th Cir. 1989)). “A reviewing court is not to substitute its judgment for that of the agency, and the court is to show proper deference to agency expertise.” Chi-Feng Chang v. Thornburgh, 719 F.Supp. 532, 535 (N.D. Tex. 1989) (Fitzwater, J.). “Even if statutory or regulatory language is ambiguous, deference is usually given to the agency's interpretation.” Defensor v. Meissner, 201 F.3d 384, 386 (5th Cir. 2000). Eguchi thus faces a high hurdle in attempting to establish that CIS's denial was arbitrary or capricious.

         B

         The Immigration and Nationality Act requires that CIS give priority to employment-based visas to certain classes of immigrants, including those with “extraordinary ability.” 8 ...


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