Romero-Mendoza v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 12-19-2011
  • Case #: 08-74674
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge J. Rawlinson for the Court; Circuit Judge R. Fisher and Senior District Judge R. Timlin
  • Full Text Opinion

The 1983 Salvadoran constitutional amendment "eliminating legitimacy distinctions served to legitimate any child born out of wedlock."

Romero-Mendoza appealed a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") dismissing his appeal contending that he obtained derivative citizenship from his mother’s naturalization in the United States. Romero entered the country in 1993 and later became a lawful permanent resident. Following a conviction for a drug offense and a crime of violence, Romero was served with notice of removability. Romero argued that he obtained derivative citizenship when his mother became naturalized in 1997. However, the immigration judge determined that Romero was legitimated under Salvadoran law because his birth certificate included his father’s name, and after his birth his parents were married, thereby legitimizing his paternal relationship under Salvadoran law. Legitimization removes the possibility of obtaining derivative citizenship under § 1432. On appeal, Romero argued that a 1983 Salvadoran constitutional amendment eliminated any distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children. The BIA, sitting en banc, previously ruled that the 1983 amendment that eliminated legitimacy distinctions “served to legitimate any child born out of wedlock.” The Court found the BIA’s previous determination persuasive. Because Salvadoran law legitimated Romero, the BIA committed no error when it dismissed Romero’s appeal.

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