Andreica v. McAleenan,Acting Secretary, Dept. of Homeland Security17 CV 9254Order Compelling Discovery of Notes, PhotographsAugust 12, 2019

The Plaintiff and his wife retained Carla I. Espinoza of Chicago Immigration Advocates Law Offices, to file suit against United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) for its delays and eventual denial of an Adjustment of Status application, based upon marriage, filed in 2011.

The Plaintiffs were subjected to two interviews, two investigatory visits to their home, two appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals, and then two denials of their petition. USCIS denied the claim in both instances because it believed that Plaintiff’s wife was still residing with her ex-husband. While the case was pending before the Board, Carla I. Espinoza provided overwhelming evidence that the marriage was in good faith including not only joint utility bills, bank statements, and property ownership records, but also several affidavits from friends and family attesting to the good faith marriage. Despite this, the Board remained steadfast in supporting the improvident decision of USCIS.

The federal lawsuit asserted, first, that USCIS was withholding information from the record when the case was before the Board. Second, and most troubling, USCIS created a memo after the lawsuit upon which it sought to rely to summarize evidence and continue to deny the petition. Federal District Court Judge Joan B. Gottschall found both problems troubling, requiring USCIS to turn over its records by court order, dated August 12, 2019.

In her decision she said:

"To sum up, plaintiffs have made the required strong showing that the record is incomplete and that additional information is needed to facilitate meaningful judicial review. The additional information needed includes an explanation of the date appearing on the FDNS memo, A.R. 54–55. To complete the record, defendants must also add any investigative materials, such as notes, photos, an insurance claim, and the purchase agreement, considered by the Director or the BIA. If no such additional materials exist, defendants must supplement the administrative record with an appropriate affidavit so stating and indicating whether any such documents previously existed and, if so, why they cannot be added to the record."

Regarding the memo created during the litigation, Judge Gottschall said

"The court’s review of the record raises serious concerns about the good faith of the underlying investigation and proceedings. The timing of the FDNS memo’s introduction into the record (so plaintiffs never could present an argument to the Director about it) makes it appear to have been manufactured for litigation purposes (supplementation will clarify this issue)."

If your case was improperly denied, or the Government is taking an inordinate amount of time to decide your case, you may have a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). Give Chicago Immigration Advocates Law Offices a call to discuss your case.