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Y.T. v. BELL
October 25, 1979
Y.T., an individual, Plaintiff,
GRIFFIN BELL, Attorney General of the United States, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL
story is the stuff of which modern drama is made. Her parents were a Japanese citizen and an American serviceman who met in Yokosuka, Japan, in 1946. Although they did not marry, they cohabited for a time and had one daughter, Y.T., who was born on October 19, 1947. When his daughter was barely a year old, the father was recalled to the United States. Y.T. remained with her mother in Japan until 1963; then, at age 15, she came to the United States under a student visa. In 1975, she located her father and the two were reunited for the first time in over 25 years. Her father acknowledged paternity by filing an affidavit in a state court.
Y.T. filed an application for a certificate of citizenship pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1452 ("the Act"), specifically claiming entitlement to citizenship under § 201(i) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 601(i). Her application was denied on or about May 3, 1978 by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and denied again on December 22, 1978 on appeal to the Regional Commissioner. She then filed a complaint in this Court for declaratory and injunctive relief. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to § 360(a) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1503(a). Since no facts are in dispute, both parties have filed motions for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Construction of the Nationality Act
The legal dispute involves statutory construction of several sections of the Act and an interpretation of their relationship to one another. Sections 201 and 205 of the Act, enacted in 1940 (and preserved by the subsequent 1952 Act), provide in relevant part:
CHAPTER II NATIONALITY AT BIRTH
Sec. 201. The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(g) A person born outside the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, has had ten years' residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, at least five of which were after attaining the age of sixteen years, the other being an alien: Provided, That, in order to retain such citizenship, the child must reside in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling five years between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one years: Provided further, That, if the child has not taken up a residence in the United States or its outlying possessions by the time he reaches the age of sixteen years, or if he resides abroad for such a time that it becomes impossible for him to complete the five years' residence in the United States or its outlying possessions before reaching the age of twenty-one years, his American citizenship shall thereupon cease.
The preceding provisos shall not apply to a child born abroad whose American parent is at the time of the child's birth residing abroad solely or principally in the employment of the Government of the United States or a bona fide American, educational, scientific, philanthropic, religious, commercial, or financial organization, having its principal office or place of business in the United States, or an international agency of an official character in which the United States participates, for which he receives a substantial compensation;
Sec. 205. The provisions of section 201 subsections (c), (d), (e), and (g), . . . hereof apply, as of the date of birth, to a child born out of wedlock, provided the paternity is established during minority, by legitimation, or adjudication of a competent court.
In the absence of such legitimation or adjudication, the child, whether born before or after the effective date of this Act, if the mother had the nationality of the United States at the time of the child's birth, and had previously resided in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, shall be held to have acquired at birth her nationality status.
Thus, section 201 of the Act defined various categories of citizens; section 205 required that illegitimate children in certain of these categories must in addition to any 201 requirements Also be legitimated during minority. 8 U.S.C. § 605 (1940).
In 1946, obviously due to the presence of the United States armed forces in many locations abroad, the Congress passed an amendment to the 1940 Act. The entire text of the amendment follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 201 of the Nationality Act of 1940 (54 Stat. 1138-1139; 8 U.S.C. 601) is hereby amended by ...
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