Sunday, January 7, 2018

Second Circuit Denies Citizenship to Father on Remand in Session v. Morales-Santana


In Sessions v. Morales-Santana, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, last Term held that the gender distinction that Congress drew in Section 1409(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act -- which creates an exception for an unwed U.S.-citizen mother, but not for such a father, to the physical-presence requirement for the transmission of U.S. citizenship to a child born abroad -- is incompatible with Equal Protection.  Congress thus must select a uniform prescription that neither favors nor disadvantages any person on the basis of gender.  As Mark Joseph Stern wrote on Slate"the court struck down the special rule for unwed mothers, applying the five-year residence requirement to all parents. In doing so, it stripped Morales-Santana of the citizenship he had been granted by the 2nd Circuit. The court urged Congress to revise the law in a constitutional manner, potentially providing relief for people like Morales-Santana. But until it does, he faces the threat of deportation."

On remand, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected Morales-Santana’s citizenship claim.  In an unpublished disposition, the Second Circuit (Raymond J. Lohier, Jr., Susan L. Carney, and Jed S. Rakoff, District Judge) ruled that:

"Following our decision in Morales‐Santana v. Lynch, 804 F.3d 520 (2d Cir. 2015), the Government appealed to the United States Supreme Court.  The  
Supreme Court affirmed this Court’s judgment in part and reversed in part,  
remanding the case for further proceedings.  Sessions v. Morales‐Santana, 137 S.  
Ct. 1678 (2017).  The Supreme Court held that while “[t]he gender‐based  
distinction infecting §§ 1401(a)(7) and 1409(a) and (c) . . . violates the equal  
protection principle,” extending favorable treatment would convert § 1409(c)’s  
exception for unwed U.S.‐citizen mothers into the main rule displacing  
§§ 1401(a)(7) and 1409(a).  Id. at 1700–01.  “Section 1401(a)(7)’s longer  
physical‐presence requirement, applicable to a substantial majority of children  
born abroad to one U.S.‐citizen parent and one foreign citizen parent, therefore,  
must hold sway.”  Id. at 1702.  

In view of the Supreme Court’s decision, we agree with the BIA’s  
determination that under the circumstances of this case, Morales‐Santana is not a  
United States citizen.  For the foregoing reasons, the petition for review is 


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