United States v. Casasola

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 01-30-2012
  • Case #: 10-50376
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Schroeder for the Court; Circuit Judge Gould and Chief District Judge McCuskey
  • Full Text Opinion

The statute 8 U.S.C. § 1432(a), in effect prior to February 27, 2001, does not violate the equal protection clause by denying derivative citizenship to foreign-born children when only one married parent is a naturalized citizen.

Suchite Casasola ("Suchite") was charged with illegal re-entry after removal in district court, and filed a motion to dismiss based on the theory that he was granted derivative citizenship under 8 U.S.C. § 1432(a). Suchite's father had become a naturalized citizen when Suchite was 14 years old, but Suchite's mother did not become a naturalized citizen prior to Suchite becoming 18 years old. Suchite argued that his circumstance violated equal protection by providing derivative citizenship to children of foreign-born naturalized citizens who were non-married, but did not grant derivative citizenship to foreign-born children of married parents when only one parent is a naturalized citizen. The district court denied Suchite's motion and Suchite entered a conditional plea of guilty. On appeal, Suchite argued that the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss, as well as a sentencing error caused by a change in the sentencing guidelines that was adopted while his case was on appeal. The Ninth Circuit noted that Congress amended § 1432(a) one month after Suchite turned 18, and had he been under the new statutory scheme he would have been granted derivative citizenship. However, the Ninth Circuit held Suchite's appeal must be decided under the previous statutory scheme in force at the time he turned 18. The Ninth Circuit analyzed the statutory scheme of § 1432(a) and held that Congressional intent to protect alien parents' rights from being usurped by the naturalized parent was rational and did not violate equal protection. The Ninth Circuit further held that Suchite's sentence was substantively and procedurally reasonable. AFFIRMED.

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