Anderson v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 03-12-2012
  • Case #: 07-74042
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge S. Reinhardt for the Court; Circuit Judges B. Fletcher and Tashima.
  • Full Text Opinion

For the purposes of naturalization, the laws of the state in which a child was domiciled prior to reaching twenty-one years of age determine paternity.

Anderson was born in England to an English mother and U.S. citizen father, Henry Gitelman. His natural parents did not marry and his father returned to the U.S. Anderson was later adopted by his mother’s husband and moved with them to the U.S., becoming a lawful permanent resident. He had little contact with his biological, but his father never denied paternity. In 1996, Anderson was charged with removability by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) as an alien convicted of drug-related felonies. The Immigration Judge dismissed the case, finding that Anderson was a citizen through his biological father, but the INS won a subsequent appeal and Anderson was deported. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit was required to consider the applicable law of transmitting citizenship that was in place at the time Anderson was born. That law stated that a child born out of wedlock is only naturalized if “the paternity of such child is established while such child is under the age of twenty-one years by legitimation.” Finding that paternity is established under the laws of the state in which the child was domiciled prior to age twenty-one, the court determined that Arizona law would be used to establish whether or not legitimation had occurred. Arizona law states that “every child is the legitimate child of its natural parents.” There was never any dispute that Gitelman was Anderson’s natural father. The Court therefore found that Anderson’s paternity was established by the Arizona statute and this amounted to the necessary legitimation as required by federal law at the time of his birth. REMANDED with instructions for the agency to vacate the removal order.

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