Budhathoki v. Nielsen, No. 16-51449 (5th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, who were each over the age of 18, had filed Suits Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). In the SAPCR suits, the state courts awarded child support and made certain findings. After plaintiffs received the state court SAPCR orders, they filed Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status petitions with USCIS, which were subsequently denied. Plaintiffs then filed suit in district court seeking declaratory relief regarding the definition of "child" under Texas state law and the proper interpretation and application of the terms "juvenile court" and "dependent," as those terms were defined by federal law. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that the SAPCR orders were not proper ones to support SIJ status.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed and held that USCIS properly determined that the state court orders for child support were not the equivalent of the necessary "care and custody" rulings required for SIJ status; the court rejected plaintiffs' claim that the district court relied on reasoning not employed by the agency when upholding the USCIS decision; and USCIS's denials were not arbitrary and capricious. The court denied plaintiffs' motion to supplement and rejected plaintiffs' claim that the district court failed to consider the entire administrative record.