Posted by 22 February 2019
Who is a citizen and what duties does the government owe a citizen – these are the questions at the center of a new lawsuit.
The case is being brought on behalf of Hoda Muthana, a woman who left the U.S. to marry an ISIS fighter in Syria. She is seeking to return to the U.S. but the Trump Administration is barring her, arguing that she is not a citizen. President Trump has waded into the fray, tweeting that he instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to bar her from re-entry.
The case hinges on a few key disputes. One is whether Muthana is a citizen or not. She claims that because she was born in the U.S., she is a citizen via birthright citizenship. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution grants citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is for children born who are not “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” That is generally interpreted to pertain to children of diplomats. Muthana was born to a Yemeni diplomat, but her lawyers argue that her father had resigned his diplomatic position prior to her birth. The Trump Administration counters that this resignation did not become effective until after her birth.
A follow-up dispute occurs if indeed Muthana is determined to be a citizen. Her lawyers contend that the government cannot block any citizen from returning to the U.S. They say that if this happens, it would be a violation of the Constitution for a president to unilaterally disregard citizenship protections.
If Muthana returns to the U.S., she expects to face criminal charges for her interactions with ISIS.
Do you support birthright citizenship, the constitutional practice of recognizing anyone born on U.S. soil as a citizen? Can the government prevent citizens from returning to the U.S.?