RUIZ v. MUKASEY
552 F.3d 269 (2009)
Jeanette RUIZ and Benicio Ruiz, Petitioners,
Michael B. MUKASEY, Attorney General of the United States, and Michael Chertoff, Secretary of United States Department of Homeland Security, Respondents.
Docket No. 07-5727-ag.
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Submitted: June 3, 2008.
Decided: January 12, 2009.
Kevin E. Dehghani, Esq., New Haven, CT, for Petitioners.
Gregory G. Katsas, Assistant Attorney General; Cindy S. Ferrier, Senior Litigation Counsel; Michelle G. Latour, Assistant Director; Nairi M. Simonian, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Respondents.
Before: McLAUGHLIN, LIVINGSTON, Circuit Judges, and GERSHON, District Judge.*
LIVINGSTON, Circuit Judge:
Respondents move to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction the petition filed by Jeanette and Benicio Ruiz ("Petitioners") for review of a November 30, 2007, decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") dismissing Petitioners' appeal from the January 3, 2007, decision of District Director Christina Poulos denying the I-130 petition filed by Benicio Ruiz, a citizen of the United States, for classification of Jeanette Ruiz as his spouse pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1154(a). As we have previously concluded that we do not have jurisdiction to review the Ruizes' petition, we must consider whether transfer to an appropriate district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631 is permissible and would better serve the interest of justice than dismissal. Because we determine that a district court does possess jurisdiction to entertain a petition for review of the denial of an I-130 petition and that the interest of justice is best served by transfer, we deny the motion and transfer the petition for review to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.BACKGROUND
In February 2001, Benicio Ruiz, a citizen of the United States and a resident of
Connecticut, filed a Form I-130 "Petition for Alien Relative" on behalf of his wife, Jeanette Ruiz, an alien who is also a resident of Connecticut, seeking to have her classified as the spouse of a United States citizen. See 8 U.S.C. § 1154(a)(1)(A)(i) ("[A]ny citizen of the United States claiming that an alien is entitled to ... immediate relative status ... may file a petition with the Attorney General for such classification."); 8 U.S.C. § 1151(b)(2)(A)(i) (including "spouses" within the broad category of "immediate relatives"). Simultaneously, Jeanette Ruiz filed a Form I-485 "Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status," seeking to adjust her status to lawful permanent resident. See 8 U.S.C. 1255(a) ("The status of an alien who was inspected and admitted ... into the United States ... may be adjusted by the Attorney General, in his discretion ..., to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if ... the alien makes an application for such adjustment....").
In September 2006, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") denied Jeanette's I-485 application. The adjudicating officer determined that Jeanette had demonstrated a lack of credibility by presenting conflicting accounts of her manner of entry into the United States and had been involved with Benicio Ruiz in a marriage fraud scheme. In support of the second conclusion, the adjudicating officer noted that Gabriel Pardo, a United States citizen, had previously filed an I-130 petition on Jeanette's behalf, that Jeanette had been unable to present evidence demonstrating that her marriage to Pardo was bona fide, that a subsequent investigation had revealed evidence that she was in fact the common law wife of Benicio Ruiz, and that she had confessed to having married Pardo for the sole purpose of obtaining entry to the United States. Drawing upon these conclusions, he exercised the discretion delegated to him by the Attorney General and refused to grant Jeanette lawful permanent resident status.
Also in September 2006, USCIS notified Benicio that, as a result of Jeanette's sham marriage to Pardo, it intended to deny Benicio's I-130 petition. See 8 U.S.C. § 1154(c) (barring approval of petition for immediate relative status submitted by alien who "has previously been accorded, or has sought to be accorded, an immediate relative or preference status as the spouse of a citizen of the United States ... by reason of a marriage determined by the Attorney General to have been entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws"). In January 2007, the District Director did in fact deny Benicio's I-130 petition on behalf of Jeanette, again citing her sham marriage to Pardo as the reason behind the denial.
Petitioners appealed only the District Director's denial of Benicio's I-130 petition, and not USCIS's denial of Jeanette's I-485 application, to the BIA, arguing that it was a denial of due process for the District Director to reject the petition without allowing them to view or rebut the evidence upon which she relied, that Jeanette's marriage to Pardo was bona fide, and that the petitioners never engaged in a scheme to obtain entry into the United States. The BIA dismissed Petitioners' appeal in November 2007, finding that the District Director's decision applied the correct legal standard, was supported by substantial evidence in the administrative record, and involved no deprivation of due process.