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Immigration Law

CA9 on Acquired Citizenship, Modified Categorical Approach: Ragasa v. Holder

Court staff summary: "The panel granted Crisanto Ragasa’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision finding that he did not establish United States citizenship by adoption, and that he was removable because of his Hawaii state court drug conviction.

The panel denied Ragasa’s citizenship claim, holding that under the law in effect at the time of the relevant events Ragasa did not acquire citizenship from his adoptive parents.  The panel held that former Immigration and Nationality Act § 320(a) does not apply to adopted children, and that he did not acquire citizenship under former INA § 320(b) because he was not residing in the U.S. nor was he in the custody of his adoptive parents at the time they naturalized. The panel also held that because Ragasa’s adoptive parents did not become his legal parents until fourteen years after his birth he could not obtain citizenship through them under former INA § 301(a)(7).

The panel, however, held that Ragasa is not removable because his conviction for attempted promoting a dangerous drug, in violation of Hawaii Revised Stat. §§ 705-500(1)(b), 712-1241(1)(b)(ii), does not constitute a removable offense.  The panel held that the statute of conviction is not a categorical removable offense because it criminalizes at least two substances not proscribed by the Controlled Substances Act, and that under the modified categorical approach the record documents do not establish that Ragasa’s conviction involved a controlled substance listed in the CSA." - Ragasa v. Holder, Apr. 28, 2014.