Case: Anetekhai v. I.N.S.

88-00827 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

Filed Date: Feb. 26, 1988

Closed Date: July 12, 1989

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Case Summary

On February 26, 1988, two private plaintiffs — Mr. Anetekhai, a Nigerian citizen who initially entered the United States under a nonimmigrant student visa, as well as his wife, Mrs. Anetekhai, a U.S. citizen — filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief that Section 5(b) of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 (“IMFA”) was unconstitutional, and tha…

On February 26, 1988, two private plaintiffs — Mr. Anetekhai, a Nigerian citizen who initially entered the United States under a nonimmigrant student visa, as well as his wife, Mrs. Anetekhai, a U.S. citizen — filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief that Section 5(b) of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 (“IMFA”) was unconstitutional, and that the INS not continue to enforce the provision. 

In a 1986 deportation proceeding, an immigration judge ordered Mr. Anetekhai to voluntarily depart from the United States by January 31, 1988 or any extension date granted by an INS District Director. If Mr. Anetekhai failed to comply with the order, he would face deportation for violating his student visa. While under these deportation proceedings, Mr. Anetekhai married a United States citizen. The INS District Director then granted Mr. Anetekhai an extension of his voluntary departure date to February 28, 1988. Near the end of the extension period, the plaintiffs filed an application for preliminary injunction so as to stop INS from deporting Mr. Anetekhai. The plaintiffs believed that the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) would grant Mr. Anetekhai an immediate adjustment in status as an “immediate relative” such that he would continue to stay in the United States on legal grounds. However, on March 16, 1988, the application was heard and denied due to Section 5(b) of the IMFA. Section 5(b) provides that an application for adjustment of status “may not be approved to grant an alien immediate relative status…by reason of a marriage,” while the individual is subject to deportation proceedings, “until the alien has resided outside the United States for a 2–year period beginning after the date of the marriage.” 

The plaintiffs, thus, alleged that Section 5(b) violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment by denying them the ability to prove the bona fides of their marriage and impermissibly burdening the fundamental right to marry. The plaintiffs further contended that Section 5(b) violated their First Amendment rights to privacy and association. In an amended complaint, the plaintiffs added two additional claims: Section 5(b) violated both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the U.S. constitution because the provision infringes on the regulation of marriage by the state of Louisiana. The case was assigned to Judge Adrian G. Duplantier. 

On June 2, 1988, the Eastern District of Louisiana dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ claims. The District Court referenced Supreme Court precedent in the case of Fiallo v. Bell to recognize the long-held belief by courts that “the power to expel or exclude aliens [is] a fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the Government's political departments.” In Fiallo, the Supreme Court upheld a provision of the INA because it had “no judicial authority to substitute ... [its] political judgment for that of the Congress” and because “it is not the judicial role in cases of this sort to probe and test the justifications of legislative decisions.” In the case at hand, the Eastern District refused to substitute its judgment for that of Congress. The District Court determined that it was within Congress' plenary power over immigration matters to impose a 2–year non-residency requirement on aliens who marry U.S. citizens while subject to deportation proceedings, for the purpose of deterring fraudulent marriages. The constraints of rationality imposed by substantive due process and equal protection did not limit the federal government's power to regulate immigration. As such, the plaintiffs’ suit was dismissed under all constitutional claims. 685 F.Supp. 599. 

The plaintiffs soon appealed the District Court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision on July 12, 1989. Given the highly deferential standard of review applied by courts in the area of immigration, the Appellate Court found that Section 5(b) easily passes constitutional muster based on rational basis scrutiny. Not only did Congress have a strong and legitimate interest in deterring marriages entered into for purposes of obtaining immigration benefits, but it was also logical for Congress to have concluded that those engaged in deportation proceedings would be more likely to enter into fraudulent marriages as a way to avoid deportation. 876 F.2d 1218. 

The case is now considered closed. 

 

Summary Authors

Kavitha Babu (4/18/2024)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

88-cv-03191

88-00827

Opinion

June 2, 1988

June 2, 1988

Order/Opinion

685 F.Supp. 685

88-00827

Opinion

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

July 12, 1989

July 12, 1989

Order/Opinion

876 F.2d 876

Docket

Last updated April 17, 2024, 3 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Louisiana

Case Type(s):

Immigration and/or the Border

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 26, 1988

Closing Date: July 12, 1989

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Two private plaintiffs: a Nigerian citizen who initially entered the United States under a nonimmigrant student visa, as well as his wife, a U.S. citizen

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (District of Columbia), Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Procedural Due Process

Federalism (including 10th Amendment)

Freedom of speech/association

Equal Protection

Available Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General/Misc.:

Marriage

Discrimination Basis:

Immigration status

Immigration/Border:

Deportation - procedure