Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Morales-Santana v. Lynch United Court of Appeals (2015)

Gender discrimination

Morales-Santana sought review of a decision made by the Board of Immigration Appeals denying his motion to reopen his removal proceedings to evaluate his claim of derivative citizenship. Morales-Santana’s derivative citizenship claim was based on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (18 U.S.C. §1409). The 1952 Act differentiates how fathers and mothers can confer citizenship to their children. An unwed citizen mother confers citizenship on her child as long as she had been resident in the United States for a year continuously before the child’s birth. An unwed citizen father, however, cannot transfer citizenship to his child born abroad if he was not present in the United States before the child’s birth for a total of ten years. Additionally, five of the father’s ten years in the United States must be after his fourteenth birthday. Therefore, it was impossible for a father under the age of eighteen to confer citizenship to a child born abroad of a non-citizen mother. In this case, Morales-Santana’s father satisfied the requirements for transmitting citizenship applicable to unwed mothers but not the more stringent requirements applicable to unwed fathers. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals found this disparate treatment a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals decision.



Avendano-Hernandez v. Lynch Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2015)

Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

Plaintiff was a transgender woman from Mexico who was subjected to sexual assault and rape by Mexican police and military throughout her life. In 2006, she was arrested in America for driving under the influence. In 2007 she was deported to Mexico. After suffering more mistreatment in Mexico, Avendano-Hernandez returned to the U.S. and appealed for asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. She reentered the United States in May 2008 and was arrested three years later for violating the terms of probation imposed in her 2006 felony offense for failing to report to her probation office. Plaintiff applied for withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture but the immigration judge denied her request for failing to show that the Mexican government would more likely than not consent to or acquiesce in her torture, which was confirmed by the Board of Immigration Appeals. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision with respect to the Convention Against Torture application because it was enough for Avendano-Hernandez to show that she was subject to torture at the hands of local officials. Additionally, the immigration judge relied on recent anti-discrimination legislation; however, the judge did not consider the legislation’s effectiveness. Therefore, Plaintiff should be given relief under the Convention Against Torture.