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CA2 Passport Victory: Alzokari v. Pompeo

August 26, 2020 (1 min read)

Alzokari v. Pompeo

"This case presents a question of first impression for this Court: can the Department revoke a citizen’s United States passport on the ground that he concealed his identity in applying for the passport, where the citizen makes a statement that prior to his naturalization he was known by another name but he applied for, and was issued, his passport using his uncontested legal name? We hold that it cannot. Because Alzokari cannot be said to have fraudulently obtained his passport when he used the name and birthdate denoted on his unchallenged immigration and citizenship documents, including his certificate of naturalization, we reverse the district court’s decision, reverse the Department’s decision to uphold the passport revocation, and order the Department to return Alzokari’s passport so that he may reapply for a United States passport if he so chooses. ... At bottom, the Department failed to consider the significance of Alzokari’s immigration and nationalization records in accordance with the law. Its premise for revoking Alzokari’s passport offers no support for the conclusion that Alzokari obtained his passport fraudulently and is contrary to the Department’s own regulations and guidance. If the Department’s revocation were to stand, Alzokari would be left in an untenable position: His claim of citizenship is unquestioned and yet he is forbidden from leaving the country for using the name he carries as a U.S. citizen. If the Department believes Alzokari’s “true identity” is Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed Albaadani and that his citizenship was fraudulently procured (it is not enough that Alzokari was known by another name prior to his naturalization), the proper remedy would be to revoke his citizenship. Until then, Alzokari can use his legal name to obtain a passport. The Department’s passport revocation was arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law. ... we REVERSE the judgment of the district court, REVERSE the Department’s decision to uphold the revocation of Alzokari’s passport, and ORDER the Department to return Alzokari’s expired passport so that he may apply for a new United States passport if he so chooses."

[Hats way off to Jan H. Brown!]