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Montijo-Valdez v. Holder

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 5, 2014

Sergio Montijo-Valdez, Petitioner,
Eric H. Holder, Jr., Att'y Gen., Respondent.


JAMES A. TELBORG, Senior District Judge.

Pending before the Court is United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.'s (the "Government's") Motion for Summary Judgment (the "Motion").[1] (Doc. 47). The Court now rules on the Motion.


For purposes of the Court's resolution of the pending Motion, the Court considers the relevant facts and background, viewed in Petitioner's favor, [2] to be as follows.

Petitioner's father, Hector Castro Montijo, was born in Mexico on January 18, 1949. (The Government's Statement of Facts ("SOF"), Doc. 48 ¶ 3). Hector derived United States citizenship from his father, Petitioner's grandfather. (Petitioner's Additional Statement of Facts ("ASOF"), Doc. 52 at 10-11 ¶ 13). Petitioner's mother, Maria Elena Valdez de Montijo was also born in Mexico. (SOF ¶ 2). Hector attended grade school in Mexico until he was around 15 years old. (Petitioner's Response to the Government's Statement of Facts ("CSOF"), Doc. 52 ¶ 9). As early as 1965, Hector began traveling to and from the United States. (ASOF ¶ 1).

Beginning in either 1967 or 1968, Hector began working "in the fields" in the United States. (Doc. 52-2 at 6-7; ASOF ¶ 3). In 1968, Hector and Maria Elena began living together in Mexico. (SOF ¶ 15). While living with Maria Elena, Hector performed seasonal work in both Mexico and the United States. (SOF ¶ 16; CSOF ¶ 15; ASOF ¶ 5). Hector continued this seasonal work past the time Petitioner was born in 1979. (ASOF ¶ 4). Hector worked in the United States anywhere from two to eight months of each year. (ASOF ¶ 6).

On January 11, 1979, Petitioner was born in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. (SOF ¶ 31). When Petitioner was born, Hector was domiciled in Poblado Morelos, Mexico. (SOF ¶ 32). On December 1, 1983, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") approved Hector's citizenship application and issued a Certificate of Citizenship to Hector. (SOF ¶ 35). The Certificate of Citizenship noted that Hector was a United States citizen at birth and that he resided in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico. (SOF ¶ 35).

On March 4, 1989, Petitioner immigrated to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. (SOF ¶ 43). On October 5, 2009, Petitioner's father, Hector, died. (SOF ¶ 45). On September 27, 2011, Petitioner was convicted of transporting illegal aliens for profit, a class A felony. (Doc. 15-5 at 2-3). Sometime thereafter, the Government initiated removal proceedings against Petitioner. ( See Doc. 48-1 at 3-6).

On March 8, 2012, an immigration judge found that Petitioner did not establish any claim to derivative United States citizenship and found Petitioner to be removable. ( Id. at 4). Petitioner appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA"). ( See id. at 3-6). The BIA agreed with the immigration judge's determination that Petitioner did not establish any derivative citizenship claim through Hector and dismissed the appeal. ( Id. at 4). Petitioner petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for review of the BIA's decision. ( See Doc. 15-1). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that "a genuine issue of material fact exist[ed] as to [P]etitioner's claim of United States citizenship" and transferred the case to this Court for a de novo review of Petitioner's citizenship claim. ( Id. at 1).


Summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that 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). "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support that assertion by... citing particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits, or declarations, stipulations... admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, " or by "showing that materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Id. 56(c)(1)(A), (B). Thus, summary judgment is mandated "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

Initially, the movant bears the burden of pointing out to the Court the basis for the motion and the elements of the causes of action upon which the non-movant will be unable to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then shifts to the non-movant to establish the existence of material fact. Id. The non-movant "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" by "com[ing] forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) (1963) (amended 2010)). A dispute about a fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The non-movant's bare assertions, standing alone, are insufficient to create a material issue of fact and defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 247-48. Further, because "[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge, ... [t]he evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor" at the summary judgment stage. Id. at 255 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)); Harris v. Itzhaki, 183 F.3d 1043, 1051 (9th Cir. 1999) ("Issues of credibility, including questions of intent, should be left to the jury.") (internal citations omitted).


Petitioner argues that the Court "should deny [the Government's] Motion... because genuine issues of material fact exist regarding [the Petitioner's] derivative citizenship claim." (Doc. 51 at 2). Petitioner alleges that ...

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