Chacoty v. Kerry

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BARAK CHACOTY, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Civil Action No. 14-764 (RDM) REX W. TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State, et al., Defendants. MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiffs are eighteen Israeli citizens 1 and a Canadian citizen, all of whom were born outside the United States. They contend that they are U.S. citizens by birth pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1401(c). That provision confers birthright citizenship on a person born abroad if both parents are U.S. citizens and one parent “has had a residence in the United States” prior to the person’s birth. Id. Each of the Plaintiffs applied to the State Department for proof of citizenship in the form of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (“CRBAs”). The State Department either denied their CRBA applications or, for two of the Plaintiffs, revoked already-issued CRBAs. The Department’s rationale: Plaintiffs are not, in fact, U.S. citizens because none of their parents satisfy the residency requirement of § 1401(c). Plaintiffs filed this action against the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and other State Department officials (collectively, “the Department”) asserting claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. 1 Technically, sixteen of these individuals are minors whose parents have brought this action on their behalf. See Dkt. 28 at 5–8 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2–11, 14–20). For the sake of concision, however, the Court uses the term “Plaintiffs” to denote the minors, not their parents. They contend that the State Department applied an impermissibly strict interpretation of the term “residence” in denying their applications, which is contrary to the plain terms of § 1401(c); that the Department departed from its prior, longstanding interpretation of the statute without following the requirements of the APA and the Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual; and that the Department has not applied its new reading of the statute consistently nor embodied that reading in Department “policy.” The Department moves to dismiss on four grounds. Its principal contention is that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiffs’ sole remedy lies in 8 U.S.C. § 1503. Invoking the § 1503 remedy requires either (1) presence in the United States, which Plaintiffs do not allege, or (2) a set of conditions that Plaintiffs have not fulfilled: application for a certificate of identity, presence at a “port of entry” to the United States, an application for admission, and, if necessary, a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Second, the Department argues that, under the general six-year statute of limitations for claims against the United States, 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a), the claims of four of the Plaintiffs are untimely and that the Court, accordingly, lacks jurisdiction over those claims. Third, the Department contends that all but two of the remaining Plaintiffs have failed to allege facts sufficient to state claims for relief under the APA. Finally, the Department disputes the adequacy of Plaintiffs’ due process claims. As explained below, the Court concludes that for the most part, ...

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