Morfin v. Tillerson, No. 15-3633 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Ulloa, a citizen of Mexico, married Morfin, a U.S. citizen. Morfin sought approval for his permanent residence, but Ulloa was present in the U.S. without authority and was required to return to Mexico to obtain a visa for lawful entry. He applied at the consulate in Juarez. After twice interviewing Ulloa, the State Department denied him a visa, stating that it had reason to believe that he is (or was) involved in drug trafficking. In 2001 Ulloa had been indicted for possessing more than 500 grams of cocaine, with intent to distribute. The U.S. Attorney dismissed the indictment and Ulloa denies the charge, but he lacks a favorable adjudication. The couple sued under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 702, alleging that the denial was arbitrary and not supported by substantial evidence. The district court found that it lacked jurisdiction because decisions on visa applications are committed to agency discretion and are outside the scope of judicial review under the APA. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While the APA does not curtail jurisdiction granted by other laws, the consular officer gave a legitimate reason for denying Ulloa’s application. Precedent prevents the judiciary from reweighing the facts and equities. Whether Congress acted wisely in making “reason to believe” some fact sufficient to support the denial of a visa application is not a question open to review by the judiciary.