Ragasa v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 04-28-2014
  • Case #: 12-72262
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judges Hawkins and Bea.
  • Full Text Opinion

A foreign-born child, whose biological parents were not U.S. citizens at the time of his birth does not obtain citizenship citizenship through a subsequent adoption by U.S. citizens, however to establish removability under Section 237(a)(2)(B)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act the government must prove that the drug underlying the state conviction is covered by Section 102 of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Cristiano Ragasa (“Ragasa”) immigrated to the United States from the Philippines at the age of fourteen and was adopted by his aunt and uncle (“adoptive parents”), both of whom were United States naturalized citizens. Ragasa then became a lawful permanent resident. In 2008, the Hawaii’i state court convicted Ragasa for “Attempted Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree.” Based on this charge, the government commenced immigration proceedings to remove Ragasa. The immigration judge upheld removal proceedings, and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Ragasa’s appeal. The Ninth Circuit Court reviewed Ragasa’s citizenship claim and the removability appeal. The panel denied Ragasa’s citizenship claim, finding that he did not obtain citizenship from his adoptive parents pursuant to the Section 320(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). Ragasa did not reside in the United States at the time of the adoption nor was he “in the custody of his adoptive parents.” Neither is Ragasa eligible for citizenship pursuant to Section and 301(a)(7) because although the prerequisite of one parent being a U.S. citizen at the birth of the adoptee is satisfied, Ragasa was only adopted fourteen years later. On the issue of removability, the panel found that Ragasa is not removable under Section 237(a)(2)(B)(i) of the INA. The government failed to establish that the drug underlying Ragasa’s conviction encompassed a controlled substance enumerated by the Controlled Substances Act. PETITION GRANTED.

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