Morales-Santana v. Lynch, No. 11-1252 (2d Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Petitioner sought review of the BIA's denial of his motion to reopen removal proceedings relating to his claim of derivative citizenship. Under the statute in effect when petitioner was born - the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (the 1952 Act) - a child born abroad to an unwed citizen mother and non‐citizen father has citizenship at birth so long as the mother was present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of at least one year at some point prior to the child’s birth. A child born abroad to an unwed citizen father and non‐citizen mother has citizenship at birth only if the father was present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth for a period or periods totaling at least ten years, with at least five of those years occurring after the age of fourteen. In this case, petitioner's father satisfied the requirements for transmitting citizenship applicable to unwed mothers but not the more stringent requirements applicable to unwed mothers. Applying intermediate scrutiny, the court concluded that the gender‐based distinction at the heart of the 1952 Act’s physical presence requirements is not substantially related to the achievement of a permissible, non‐stereotype‐based objective. The court saw no reason that unwed fathers need more time than unwed mothers in the United States prior to their child’s birth in order to assimilate the values that the statute seeks to ensure are passed on to citizen children born abroad. Conforming the immigration laws Congress enacted with the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, the court concluded that petitioner is a citizen as of his birth. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on October 30, 2015.
- Sessions v. Morales-Santana, No. 15-1191 (U.S. Jun. 12, 2017)