Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nguyen v. Immigration & Naturalization Service case brief

Nguyen v. Immigration & Naturalization Service case brief summary
533 U.S. 53 (2001)

Petitioner son was born outside the United States to unwed parents. Petitioner father was a citizen. Son became a lawful permanent resident. Son pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault on a child. The immigration judge found son deportable. Son's claim to citizenship was rejected. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the constitutional challenge to 8 U.S.C.S. § 1409(a). The instant court granted certiorari.

8 U.S.C.S. § 1409 imposed different requirements for a child's acquisition of citizenship depending upon whether the citizen parent was the mother or the father. The question before the instant court was whether the statutory distinction was consistent with equal protection.


  • The instant court found that the imposition of the requirement for a paternal relationship, but not a maternal one, was justified by two important governmental objectives. 
  • The first objective was the importance of assuring that a biological parent-child relationship existed. The second objective was the determination to ensure that the child and the citizen parent had some demonstrated opportunity or potential to develop a relationship that consisted of the real, everyday ties that provided a connection between child and citizen parent. 
  • The means adopted by Congress to further its objectives substantially related to the facilitation of a relationship between parent and child. 
  • The difference between men and women in relation to the birth process was a real one, and the principle of equal protection did not forbid Congress to address the problem at hand in a manner specific to each gender.

The judgment of the appellate court was affirmed.

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