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Ian Samuel @isamuel
, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
A couple of days ago, the Second Circuit issued its opinion in our case, Jaen v. Sessions, about a United States citizen that the Trump administration was trying to deport. This might be my favorite win that I’ve ever had.… 1/
The basic facts: Our client, Levy Jaen, is born abroad to a non-citizen mother. Her husband is a United States citizen. But Levy's natural father is not. Under our law, a person with one citizen parent (with some other requirements not relevant here) is a citizen at birth. 2/
Levy found himself in deportation proceedings, and indeed it is clear that he was removable—but only, of course, if he was not a citizen. Which he claimed he was: My dad was a citizen, he says. No, says the government: your dad was an alien. 3/
So, the question: *Who* are Levy Jaen's parents, for the purposes of the immigration law? The statute does not define the term "parent," there are no regulations on the matter, and there is actually very little precedent on the question—and nothing in CA2. 4/
Our argument (befitting a brief co-authored by a Scalia clerk) was simple. Pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant—the nuptials show who is the father. A child born to married parents is the legitimate child of both, and has been since Blackstone & before. 4/
No, says the government. Our policy manuals say that you must have a blood relationship to a citizen to be eligible for citizenship at birth—though it's hard to see why that matters, since it is black-letter law that internal agency "manuals" do not get Chevron deference. 5/
In an admirably formalist and originalist opinion, the Second Circuit granted our petition for review. When a term is not defined, says the court, it is presumed that Congress meant to bring the common-law definition with it—so too here. 6/
Quoting Justice Scalia's (very good) opinion in Michael H. v. Gerald D., CA2 invokes the common-law "sanctity" of the marital family—which the government, in this case, is trying to disturb. (Levy's father raised him as his son, notwithstanding the circumstances of his birth.) 7/
Writing separately, Judge Pooler notes that despite the fact that all of this follows from well-settled principles of family law, the government insisting on detaining our client—a United States citizen!—until the day after oral argument, when CA2 ordered him released. 8/
The day after oral argument, my co-counsel Andrea Saenz drove to New Jersey to pick him up from Immigration Jail™, and got him a MetroCard home, where he surprised his family (including his children). I was back in Cambridge by then, but we got to FaceTime. 9/
So, let me just say this. Justice Scalia taught me how to win that case. We wrote a brief I think he would have voted for. And because he did, a New Yorker named Levy Jaen got to get back to his life in Queens. Pretty good. Thanks, Boss. 10/10
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