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Li Dang Ding v. David G. Gulick

January 31, 2012

LI DANG DING,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID G. GULICK, DISTRICT DIRECTOR OF UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, HONOLULU DISTRICT OFFICE; UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Oki Mollway Chief United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION.

This is an appeal from a decision by the United States Citizen and Immigration Service ("USCIS") denying Plaintiff Li Dang Ding's application for naturalization. Ding sought naturalization as the spouse of a citizen. Defendants David Gulick, the District Director of USCIS for the Honolulu District Office, and the USCIS seek summary judgment on the ground that Ding cannot establish that she satisfies the requirements that she have lived in marital union with her citizen spouse, George Shioura, for the three years before she applied for naturalization, and that she has good moral character. Because the record establishes that Ding and her husband did not live in marital union for the period in issue, the court grants Defendants' motion.

II. STATUTORY FRAMEWORK.

The Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq., grants the Attorney General of the United States the authority to naturalize persons as citizens of the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1421. A person seeking naturalization must file an N-400 application and undergo an examination by the USCIS. See id. §§ 1445, 1446. The USCIS then makes a determination based on the application and the examination. If the USCIS denies the application for naturalization, the applicant may request an N-336 hearing before an immigration officer. Id. § 1447(a). If, after conducting a hearing, the USCIS continues to deny the application for naturalization, the applicant may seek review in the United States District Court. Id. § 1421(c). Ding, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, has petitioned this court for review of the denial of her naturalization application.

Under the INA, to be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must satisfy a residence requirement. Id. § 1427(a). An applicant seeking naturalization as the spouse of a citizen must have been "living in marital union" with his or her citizen spouse throughout the three years immediately preceding the day the applicant applies for naturalization. Id. § 1430(a). The INA also requires that the applicant have been of "good moral character" for that three-year period. Id. § 1427(a).

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.

The parties agree on certain facts. Ding, a citizen of the People's Republic of China, was admitted into the United States on August 12, 1999. Defs.' Separate Concise Stmt. Facts ("Defs.' Facts") ¶ 1, ECF No. 27; Pl.'s Concise Stat. Facts ("Pl.s' Facts") ¶ 1, ECF No. 33.

On February 4, 2002, Ding married George Shioura, a United States citizen. Defs.' Fact ¶ 2. Their marriage certificate lists Anaheim, California, as the place they lived. Defs.' Facts Ex. 1, at 126. Based on her marriage to Shioura, Ding became a lawful permanent resident of the United States on September 19, 2005. Defs.' Facts ¶ 4.

In August 2004, Shioura moved to Hawaii to assume a different position with his employer. Id. ¶ 3; Defs.' Facts Ex. 3 ("Ding Deposition") at 32:20 - 33:1-14, ECF No. 27-1. At some point, Ding moved to Hawaii with Shioura, but she returned to California in October or November 2005. Defs.' Facts ¶ 5.

On July 7, 2008, Ding filed an N-400 naturalization application, id. ¶ 10, and, on January 19, 2010, the USCIS conducted a preliminary interview regarding her application. Id. ¶ 12; Defs.' Facts Ex. 1, at 324. On March 3, 2010, the USCIS denied Ding's application on two grounds: (1) she was ineligible for naturalization because she did not meet the residence requirement under the INA, and (2) she failed to establish the requisite good moral character given the false testimony she allegedly provided in connection with seeking benefits under the INA. Id. ¶ 20; Defs.' Facts Ex. 1, at 324-35.

On March 13, 2010, Ding appealed the USCIS decision and requested an N-336 hearing. See 8 U.S.C. § 1447(a). The hearing was held on May 26, 2010. Defs.' Facts ¶ 22. On October 6, 2012, Ding's appeal was denied on the grounds cited earlier by the USCIS. Defs.' Facts Ex. 1 at 1696.

Ding seeks review of the denial, claiming that Defendants are misinterpreting 8 C.F.R. § 319.1(b)(1), as well as Ding's responses at her interview and N-336 hearing. Pet. for Review of Denial of Appl. for Naturalization Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c) and Request for De Novo Hearing, Jan. 1, 2011, ECF No. 1 ("Petition for Review"). Defendants now seek summary judgment on the ground that, as matter of law, Ding ...


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