Suit for delay in green card petition is further delayed


Proceedings in another civil case against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a four-year delay in an immigration petition is further delayed in light of the federal government shutdown.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona approved last week the motion filed by DHS to hold the proceedings in the lawsuit of Chen Chien-Li and his daughter.

Manglona ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is lawyer for DHS and its co-defendants, to notify the court as soon as Congress has appropriated funds for the Department of Justice.

All current deadlines are also extended, according to Manglona.

In a motion to stay proceedings, assistant U.S. attorney Jessica F. Wessling said the appropriations act that had been funding the DOJ expired last Dec. 21, and appropriations to the department lapsed.

The same is true for several other executive agencies, including the DHS, Wessling said.

The DOJ does not know when funding will be restored by Congress.

She said DOJ attorneys and employees of the federal DHS are prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis, except in very limited circumstances, including “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

Wessling requested a stay of all proceedings in the case until Congress has restored appropriations to DOJ, including deadlines and hearings.

Chien-Li and his daughter did not object to the motion.

The daughter is a U.S. citizen living in New York. Chien-Li is her Taiwanese father, who stays in the CNMI.

Chien-Li and his daughter sued DHS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials last September for an alleged four-year delay in adjudicating her green card petition for him.

Chien-Li and his daughter are suing USCIS district director for District 26 David Gulick, USCIS director L. Francis Cissna, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen, for alleged violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Chien-Li and his daughter, through counsel Joseph E. Horey, want the court to declare that DHS and USCIS’ failure to act on their petition and application “is and has been arbitrary, capricious, short of statutory right, and without observance of procedure required by law.”

Chien-Li and his daughter are seeking a writ of mandamus that would compel USCIS to adjudicate their pending petition and application.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, an alien living in the U.S. who is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen may adjust to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Horey said that, on Dec. 8, 2014, Yen filed with USCIS an I-130 petition on behalf of her father, Chien-Li, seeking to have him classified as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen based on their family relationship.

To this date, Horey said, plaintiffs’ petition and application have not been adjudicated and they have received no further news of any progress toward adjudication.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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