Thursday, May 5, 2016

Case of the Day: Teng v. District Director, USCIS, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8161 (9th Cir. May 4, 2016)


Petitioner Yu-Ling Teng is an immigrant from Taiwan. When Teng first entered the United States as a student in 1965, she provided her birth date to the Social Security Administration as August 9, 1939. When Teng applied for Permanent Residency in 1974, however, she provided documents that said her birthday was August 9, 1944. Because of the discrepancy, she has been unable to renew her driver's license since 2004.

Teng attempted to change her birth date through USCIS and SSA, both of which rejected her petition. After appealing to her state assemblywoman, Teng turned to the U.S. District Court, which also denied her petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed. While expressing significant amount of sympathy for the petitioner (using the expression "a bureaucratic mess of Gogolian proportions",) the court found that federal courts lack the subject matter jurisdiction to order USCIS to amend the agency-issued certificates of naturalization because the Immigration Act of 1990 stripped the courts the jurisdiction over naturalization proceedings.


This is stuff for a Kafka novel! For 12 years petitioner has been unable to drive for the small fault of providing inconsistent birth dates to two different government agencies. She took her case all the way to the federal appellate court, only to find no relief.

It is yet another example of the type of bureaucratic mess to which immigrants are subjected. Personally, I would prefer the IRS to audit me twice before going through the process with the USCIS.

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