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American or ISIS Bride…
Or Both?

A father heads to a U.S. court today to fight for his daughter’s return to America after she ran away to join ISIS in Syria.

The U.S. says she’s not a citizen.
Her family says she is.

What this legal debate teaches us about U.S. citizenship.

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What To Know:
U.S. Citizens

  • Babies born to non-citizens in the U.S. are automatically citizens EXCEPT babies born to diplomats.
  • Citizenship is required for a U.S. passport.
  • U.S. citizenship (regardless of when you receive it, at birth or later) may be revoked by the U.S. gov’t under certain circumstances.
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HODA MUTHANA

  • Born in New Jersey; her father served as a Yemeni UN diplomat.
  • In 2014, she fled Alabama to marry an ISIS fighter in Syria.
  • She admits to calling for the murder of American citizens online. Posted a photo allegedly burning her U.S. passport.
  • Now lives in a Syrian refugee camp w/ her toddler son & wants to return to U.S.
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Citizenship Case

  • U.S. says: she is NOT a citizen b/c her father was a diplomat at the time of her birth.
  • Muthana’s family says: she was born a citizen and obtained a U.S. passport in 2004. Family admits in 2016, a gov’t letter informed them Muthana’s citizenship was revoked over inaccuracies re: father’s diplomatic position dates.
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What The Law Says:

  • You can lose your citizenship if you partake in certain acts, with the intention of rejecting your citizenship status.
  • These acts include being convicting of treason, and either obtaining citizenship in, serving in the armed forces of, or, declaring allegiance to a “foreign state.”
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Lingering Legal Issues

  • ISIS is not considered a “foreign state” under U.S. law.
  • Muthana hasn’t been charged with any crime.
  • Citizen can formally renounce their U.S. citizenship: Did Muthana officially do that?
  • Besides citizenship debate, does the U.S. gov’t have other legal grounds to reject her reentry to America?
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Across the pond, a similar case has emerged in United Kingdom concerning a 15-year-old British citizen who fled to join ISIS in Syria in 2015. The UK intends to revoke her citizenship citing a law that allows it do so when it is “conducive to the public good."

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