Immigration Law

CA2 on Derivative Citizenship: Morales-Santana v. Lynch

"Petitioner Luis Ramon Morales‐Santana seeks review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision denying his motion to reopen his removal proceedings to evaluate his claim of derivative citizenship.  Under the statute in effect when Morales‐Santana was born, Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, §§ 301(a)(7), 309(a), (c) (codified at 8 U.S.C. §§ 1401(a)(7), 1409(a), (c) (1952)), Morales‐Santana’s father satisfied the physical presence requirements for transmitting citizenship applicable to unwed citizen mothers but not the more stringent requirements applicable to unwed citizen fathers.  On appeal, Morales‐Santana argues principally that this statutory scheme violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection, and that the proper remedy is to extend to unwed fathers the benefits unwed mothers receive under the statute.  We agree and hold that Morales‐Santana derived citizenship at birth through his father.  We accordingly REVERSE the BIA’s decision and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion." - Morales-Santana v. Lynch, July 8, 2015.  [Hats off to court-appointed pro bono counsel, STEPHEN A. BROOME (Ellyde Roko and Jacob Waldman, on the brief), Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, New York, NY, for Petitioner!]