from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Georgia No. 4:16-cv-00291-CDL-MSH
MARCUS and BLACK, Circuit Judges, and RESTANI, [*] Judge.
Arturo Salmeron-Salmeron, an El Salvadorian national, appeals
the district court's dismissal of his petition for writ
of habeas corpus and partial grant of summary judgment in
favor of the Government regarding Salmeron-Salmeron's
claim that United States Citizen and Immigration Services
("USCIS") should have exercised jurisdiction over
his application for asylum.
review of the record and consideration of the arguments made
both in the briefs and during oral argument, we affirm the
district court's dismissal of his petition for writ of
habeas corpus and partial grant of summary judgment.
facts of this case are not in dispute. In May 2014,
Salmeron-Salmeron entered the United States as a
sixteen-year-old. On his initial I-213, Record of
Deportable/Inadmissible Alien form ("I-213"), a
border officer indicated that Salmeron-Salmeron feared
returning to El Salvador. He was identified as an
unaccompanied alien child ("UAC"), and eventually
released to his parents in North Carolina.
parents hired an immigration attorney, but the attorney did
not file a claim for asylum, for withholding of removal, or
under the Convention Against Torture. Instead, the attorney
applied for voluntary departure only, which an Immigration
Judge granted. Salmeron-Salmeron did not depart by July 21,
2015, as required by the terms of the voluntary departure, so
the order became a final order of removal. On August 27,
2015, Salmeron-Salmeron turned eighteen years old. In January
2016, Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE")
detained Salmeron-Salmeron, completed a new I-213 stating
that Salmeron-Salmeron was eighteen, and transferred him to
the Stewart County Detention Center-an adult detention
facility in Lumpkin, Georgia.
his detention, Salmeron-Salmeron filed an asylum application
with USCIS and a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2241. On July 28, 2016, USCIS determined that it
did not have jurisdiction over Appellant's asylum claim
because his UAC determination had been terminated prior to
his filing for asylum. Salmeron-Salmeron was deported to El
Salvador on November 12, 2016.
Report and Recommendation to the district court, the
magistrate judge recommended the dismissal of
Salmeron-Salmeron's habeas corpus claim as moot given his
deportation from the United States. Report and
Recommendation, Salmeron-Salmeron v. Lynch, No.
4:16-cv-291-CDL-MSH (M.D. Ga. Aug. 24, 2017) ("Report
and Recommendation"). The magistrate judge also
recommended that the district court grant the
Government's motion for partial summary judgment on
Salmeron-Salmeron's APA claims under 5 U.S.C. § 706
because USCIS had a rational basis for its decision.
Id. at 10. After a de novo review of the
record and consideration of Salmeron-Salmeron's
objections, the district court adopted the Report and
Recommendation in full and entered judgment on September 25,
2017. Order on Report and Recommendation,
Salmeron-Salmeron v. Spivey, No. 4:16-cv-291-CDL
(M.D. Ga. Sept. 22, 2017) ("Order on Report and
Recommendation"); Salmeron-Salmeron v. Spivey,
No. 4:16-cv-291-CDL-MSH (M.D. Ga. Sept. 25, 2017).
appeal, Salmeron-Salmeron asserts two claims. First, he
argues that the inclusion of numerous documents unrelated to
the jurisdictional decision of USCIS and initial exclusion of
other documents relied on by USCIS precluded effective
judicial review. Second, he argues that the jurisdictional
decision of USCIS was arbitrary and capricious because it
violated agency procedures regarding UAC designations.
Specifically, Salmeron-Salmeron argues that agency procedure
required USCIS to adopt his previous UAC designation and
exercise jurisdiction over his asylum claim because no
affirmative act terminating that designation occurred. In a
footnote, Salmeron-Salmeron also contends that if the Court
reverses the district court's summary judgment decision
on the APA claims, it should also reverse the decision to
dismiss his habeas claim as moot.
JURISDICTION AND STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 to
review the final decision of the district
court. It reviews a district court's grant of
summary judgment de novo. Byars v. Coca-Cola
Co., 517 F.3d 1256, 1263 (11th Cir. 2008). Summary
judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The
Court considers all evidence and inferences reasonably drawn
therefrom "in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party." McCullum v. Orlando Reg'l Healthcare
Sys., Inc., 768 F.3d 1135, 1141 (11th Cir. 2014).
Salmeron-Salmeron appeals the decision of USCIS under the
APA, the Court reviews whether the agency's decision was
"arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or
otherwise not in accordance with law." 5 U.S.C. §
706(2)(A); Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass'n of U.S., Inc. v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 41 (1983).
This is a deferential standard; a court does not substitute
its own judgment for that of the agency, but assesses whether
the agency arrived at a rational conclusion connected to the
evidence. State Farm, 463 U.S. at 43. Further, the
Court employs a harmless-error analysis when "a mistake
of the administrative body is one that clearly had no bearing
on the procedure used or the substance of decision
reached." Animal Legal Def. Fund v. U.S. Dep't
of Agric., 789 F.3d 1206, 1224 n.13 (11th Cir. 2015)
(citations omitted); see also 5 U.S.C. § 706
(instructing a reviewing court to take account of "the
rule of prejudicial error").