Acevedo v. Lynch

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 08-24-2015
  • Case #: 12-71237
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judges Fletcher and Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

The definition of “child” in the Immigration and Nationality Act § 1101(c)(1) does not include stepchildren, and Congress did not intend § 1101(b)’s definition to apply to derivative citizenship under 8 U.S.C. § 1431(a).

Edson Acevedo was born in Mexico to Mexican national parents. When Acevedo was twelve-years-old, his mother married a United States citizen. One year later Acevedo’s stepfather filed a Petition for Alien Relative on Acevedo’s behalf, and Acevedo was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Acevedo’s stepfather did not legally adopt him. In 2008, Acevedo pled guilty to domestic violence charges, which eventually led him to be subject to removal as an alien convicted of a domestic violence crime under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i). Acevedo argued that he derived his citizenship from his stepfather under 8 U.S.C. § 1431(a). The Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) both sustained the removability charge and ordered Acevedo removed. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held there are only two sources of citizenship: birth and naturalization. Since Acevedo was born in Mexico, the panel evaluated whether a child derives citizenship when the biological parent marries a United States citizen. The panel determined that Congress did not intend to encompass “stepchildren” when it used the term “child.” The panel determined this by evaluating the use of “stepchild” in the definition applicable to the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (“INA”) immigration provisions, and the omission of “stepchild" from the definition applicable to the naturalization provision. The panel noted that when Congress includes particular language in one section of the statute, but omits it in other sections of the same statute, it is assumed that Congress acted intentionally in the inclusion and exclusion of the word. Thus, the panel found that Acevedo did not derive citizenship under 8 U.S.C. § 1431(a) from his stepfather, and denied Acevedo’s petition for review. Petition DENIED.

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