United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
filed this action to enforce an affidavit of support pursuant
to the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. §
1183a(a). The Court has jurisdiction over the matter under 28
U.S.C. § 1331. Pending before the Court is
Defendant's motion to dismiss under Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative,
motion for summary judgment (Defendant's motion). Having
carefully considered Defendant's motion, the response,
the reply, the record, and the applicable law, the Court will
grant Defendant's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1)
to the extent it will abstain from exercising jurisdiction
under the Younger abstention doctrine.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
factual history of this case is substantially undisputed.
Plaintiff is a citizen of Japan residing in the United States
on a student visa. Defendant is a United States citizen. On
August 10, 2013, Plaintiff and Defendant married, and they
now have two children of the marriage, both born in the
United States. In 2014, Plaintiff applied for permanent
residency in the United States, securing Defendant to act as
her sponsor. In support of Plaintiff's application, on
March 21, 2014, Defendant completed and executed an I-864
Affidavit of Support (I-864 Affidavit). Pursuant to the I-864
Affidavit, Defendant committed to provide any support
necessary to Plaintiff to ensure an income equal to at least
125% of the federal poverty line. Since the time of the
sponsorship, Plaintiff has been a full-time graduate student
seeking a Ph.D. Consequently, she is currently unemployed.
The parties separated on or about June 28, 2016.
time, Defendant brought an action in the Family Court for
Richland County (Family Court Action), seeking to prevent
Plaintiff from leaving the United States with his children.
The Family Court held multiple hearings, which culminated in
written instructions on October 17, 2016. These instructions,
among other things, denied Plaintiff's request for
temporary spousal support from Defendant.
November 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Petition to Remove
Conditions on Residence by Form I-751 (I-751 Petition) with
the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS), wherein she acknowledged her conditional residency
status and requested changes in the same. The USCIS extended
her conditional resident status for one year, presumably
until November 24, 2017.
Family Court then filed its Temporary Order on December 13,
2016, confirming its denial of Plaintiff's request for
temporary spousal support from Defendant. The Family Court
Action remains pending as the parties seek a divorce. The
parties disagree regarding whether the I-864 Affidavit has
been raised as a basis for support in the Family Court
subsequently filed this case seeking to enforce the I-864
Affidavit executed by Defendant under 8 U.S.C. §
1183a(a). Defendant then filed his motion to dismiss or in
the alternative for summary judgment, to which Plaintiff
filed her response in opposition and Defendant filed his
reply. The Court, having been fully briefed on the relevant
issues, is now prepared to discuss the merits of
STANDARD OF REVIEW
courts have limited jurisdiction, possessing only that power
authorized by Constitution and statute.” Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377
(1994). A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction must be granted if the court lacks statutory
authority at any time to hear and decide the dispute.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). A The burden of proof for a Rule
12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting
jurisdiction. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d
158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). If the defendant contends the
pleading fails to allege facts upon which subject matter
jurisdiction can be based, then all the facts alleged in the
complaint are assumed to be true and the plaintiff, in
effect, is afforded the same procedural protection as he
would receive under a Rule 12(b)(6) consideration. Adams
v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1989). “In
resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a district court . . . may
refer to evidence outside the pleadings.” Makarova
v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000).
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
Defendant's motion, he contends he is entitled to a
dismissal of this action under both the Younger
abstention doctrine and the Colorado River
abstention doctrine due to the pending Family Court Action.
Defendant, in support of his Younger abstention
argument, avers the Family Court Action involves matters of
support and property in the context of the parties'
anticipated divorce and encompasses this action because the
I-864 Affidavit is a contract for support entered into during
the parties' marriage. Defendant stresses the Family
Court has jurisdiction to consider the I-864 Affidavit in the
context of determining support in the Family Court Action.
Thus, Defendant seeks dismissal pursuant to Younger
abstention due to the pending Family Court Action. Defendant
also requests dismissal under Colorado River
abstention because the Family Court and this Court exercise
concurrent jurisdiction, and the factors weigh in favor of
abstention. In addition, Defendant desires dismissal under 8
C.F.R. ' 213a.2(e)(2) because Plaintiff ostensibly has
forfeited any right to rely upon the I-864 Affidavit in light
of her I-751 Petition before the USCIS. Finally, Defendant
urges dismissal under the pending action doctrine.
disputes Defendant's assertions regarding
Younger and Colorado River abstention, but
fails to respond to Defendant's arguments for dismissal
under ' 213a.2(e)(2) or the pending action doctrine. In
Defendant's reply, he ...