The Seventh Circuit found that the district court has power to make a citizenship finding for an individual who was once in removal proceedings.
Angela Ortega was put into removal proceedings in 2002, but obtained termination with prejudice in 2003 after proving that she had acquired citizenship through her father. At the time the immigration judge terminated proceedings, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had already denied her request for a Certificate of Citizenship without any hearing, and she had filed and administrative appeal. The appeal was denied, again without any hearing and without hearing any evidence. The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) filed a declaratory action on her behalf in District Court, seeking a declaration of her citizenship. The Government argued that there was no jurisdiction, because her citizenship had first arisen in removal proceedings. NIJC appealed that decision to the Seventh Circuit, and the Court remanded the case.
Ms. Ortega was represented by NIJC pro bono attorney James Morsch, of Butler Rubin, LLP.