Victory! Judge Rules ‘ISIS Bride’ Not a U.S. Citizen

Press Releases

November 15, 2019

Decision consistent with argument in IRLI brief

WASHINGTON—A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the family of the so-called “ISIS bride” who joined the terrorist group in Syria, then sought to return to America where she was born.

Judge Reggie Walton ruled on Nov. 14 that Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen. In an attempt to secure her return to the United States, her father, a former UN diplomat from Yemen, sued Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and other federal officials in federal district court in the District of Columbia. He claimed that his daughter, because of her birth in New Jersey, is a United States citizen.

Judge Walton disagreed, however, stating, “I am constrained to rule that at the time of her birth, she was still under the protection afforded to diplomats and that when she was born she was not born a U.S. citizen.”

In May of this year, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that Muthana is not a U.S. citizen.

Since children born in the United States to parents with diplomatic status are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, they are not citizens at birth under the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiff, however, claimed that his and his wife’s diplomatic status had ended before Muthana’s birth, and also that his wife had obtained “admission pending permanent residency” before that time.

While taking the Plaintiff’s claim at face value, IRLI pointed out that there is no admission status known as “admission pending permanent residency.” Noting that any “grant” of such an unreal status to Muthana’s mother was of no effect, and that Muthana’s father did not even claim he had lawful admission status when Muthana was born.

“This is an important decision that brings some much-needed clarity to the question of what constitutes U.S. citizenship,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Despite the clear precedent in Wong Kim Ark, a perception has taken hold in America that citizenship is owed to the children of illegal aliens, tourists, and diplomats, among others. That is not the case, and the decision here affirms this fact in regard to diplomats.”

The case is Muthana v. Pompeo, No. 1:19-cv-00445 (D.D.C.).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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