Will the State Department leave this family alone?!
The case surrounding Roee Kiviti, Adiel Kiviti, and their daughter Kessem has, unfortunately, turned another corner. This time, the State Department has decided to appeal a federal judge’s earlier decision to rule in favor of the family. Specifically, the Trump Administration’s State Department has chosen to contest the idea that the married gay couple’s daughter can be recognized as a U.S. citizen.
According to the Washington Blade, the State Department officially appealed U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang’s ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia on August 13. The government will now fight the couple, who are being represented by Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality, and private law firm Morgan Lewis, in yet another trial.
“It’s sad that we have to continue this legal battle,” said Roee Kiviti in a press release with Lambda Legal on Monday.
“Once again, the State Department is refusing to recognize Roee and Adiel’s rights as a married couple,” added Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron C. Morris. “The government’s attempts to strip Kessem of citizenship are unconstitutional, discriminatory, and morally reprehensible.”
This court battle over Kessem’s citizenship started when married couple Roee and Adiel Kiviti attempted to bring their children to the United States. While Roee is an American-born citizen, Adiel naturalized from Israel. This led to complications in the immigration of their two children who were born of surrogacy in Canada.
The problem lies in Kessem being biologically related to Adiel, which raised a red flag for the State Department. The Trump Administration changed the qualification process for foreign-born children to U.S. citizens obtaining citizenship themselves. The law used to say that children born in another country are still entitled to citizenship if one of their parents is a U.S. citizen. The current State Department, however, announced the following new interpretation to that law:
“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.”
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) August 17, 2020
This interpretation means that children born abroad through surrogacy are viewed as being born “out of wedlock.” That means they do not qualify for citizenship. Despite that, the Kivitis maintain that their children are U.S. citizens under Section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states “a baby born abroad to married parents is a U.S. citizen at birth when both parents are U.S. citizens and one of them has resided in the United States at any point prior to the baby’s birth.”
There is currently no date set for the new court hearings over Kessem Kiviti’s citizenship. Despite this new turn of events, Keseem’s fathers are adamant about her citizenship, according to MetroWeekly.
“We are undeterred,” shared Roee Kiviti. “We are doing this not just for our daughter and our family, but so that other families won’t have to.”