Gay Couple Wins Child’s Citizenship Battle Over Trump Admin

The Kiviti Family. / Image via NBC

A happy ending is in store for one U.S. family after a federal judge ruled in favor of them over the Trump administration.

According to the Houston Chronicle, a federal judge ruled, this Wednesday, that the U.S. State Department must recognize the daughter of a same-sex couple from Maryland. This marks the end of several years-worth of legal battles for Roee Kiviti and Adiel Kiviti.

The problem arose because of the fact that Adiel was born in Israel. And despite later becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, Adiel’s past raised a red flag within the U.S. State Department. That then led to complications with getting U.S. citizenship for their daughter Kessem, who was born through surrogacy in Canada and is biologically related to Adiel.

More specifically, the Trump administration changed the qualification process for obtaining U.S. citizenship for foreign-born children of U.S. citizens. Originally, the law was that a child born in another country is entitled to U.S. citizenship if one of their parents is a U.S. citizen. But again, the State Department announced a new interpretation to the 1952 law last year. That interpretation reads:

“The U.S. Department of State interprets the INA to mean that a child born abroad must be biologically related to a U.S. citizen parent. Even if local law recognizes a surrogacy agreement and finds that U.S. parents are the legal parents of a child conceived and born abroad… if the child does not have a biological connection to a U.S. citizen parent, the child will not be a U.S. citizen at birth.”

This interpretation essentially means that the Trump Administration views children born abroad via surrogacy as being born “out of wedlock.” But again, one Federal judge did not agree. Judge Chuang ruled that Kessem is a U.S. citizen at birth and born to married U.S. citizens.

“We are tremendously relieved that the court recognized what we always knew: that our daughter was a U.S. citizen by birth,” said Roee and Adiel Kiviti in a press release.  “We are proud we taught our little girl to stand up for what’s right even before she could crawl. No child should be denied her rights because her parents are LGBT, and no family should have to endure the indignity we did.” 

The Kiviti family was represented by Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality, and received pro bono counsel from Morgan Lewis.

“After this week’s Supreme Court victory affirming that LGBT people cannot be carved out from laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, today’s victory confirms once again that married same-sex couples cannot be carved-out from laws tied to marriage, as is the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Immigration and Nationality Act does not distinguish between the marital children of same-sex and different-sex couples. As the court noted, to do so would violate the clear terms of the law and raise grave constitutional concerns.” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Senior Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal and one of the lawyers of the family. “The law provides for the recognition of citizenship to the children born abroad of married couples who are U.S. citizens. This provision applies equally to all couples regardless of whether the parents have a biological relationship with their children. It was callous and discriminatory for the State Department to refuse to recognize baby Kessem as the U.S. citizen she is. Today’s victory shows how unlawful the Department of State’s actions really were.” 

“Today, the court rejected the State Department’s efforts to insert a biology requirement into the law where none exists and its resulting discriminatory treatment of the families formed by married same-sex couples.” said Karen Loewy, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal. “As the Supreme Court has made clear, the Constitution forbids the government from advantaging different-sex couples over same-sex couples in providing a benefit related to marriage.  This decision is a long overdue victory for this family and we hope it brings peace of mind to them and all LGBT parents in similar situations.”

Source: Houston Chronicle

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