The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Lee J. Teran


Mexican children with a U.S. parent face both historic and current challenges in acquiring U.S. citizenship. Following changes in U.S. immigration law, the number of individuals removed from the United States has swelled dramatically. This campaign against non-citizens has led to the removal of United States citizens, particularly individuals who were born abroad but claim citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent. Citizens are caught in the middle of conflicting goals between government efforts to adjudicate claims to acquired U.S. citizenship and the focus on crime and national security interests. Even though many U.S. parents and their children born abroad are unaware of laws regulating acquired citizenship status, the government has taken few affirmative steps to advise likely candidates for citizenship. As such, children born abroad to U.S. parents are commonly deported or removed from the United States, sometimes repeatedly, despite the fact that they are U.S. citizens. The Department of Homeland Security must prioritize locating individuals who have claims to citizenship and provide concrete assurances that no U.S. citizen is detained or removed from the United States. The cost to each U.S. citizen who is subjected to removal is incalculable. Until Congress restores avenues for asserting claims to citizenship before immigration judges and for review of claims in federal districts courts, U.S. citizens will continue to be removed without full access to the means to assert and review their claims.

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St. Mary's University School of Law