Ahmed Ali Muthana, the father of Hoda Muthana, has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Hoda previously fled the United States to marry a member of the Islamic State. Mr. Muthana alleges that the United States has made an unlawful attempt to rescind Hoda’s citizenship. Ahmed claims that his daughter is an American citizen and thus cannot be barred from re-entering the country despite her ties to the Islamic State.
In his suit, Ahmed Muthana is demanding that his daughter’s claimed American citizenship be acknowledged and that she be allowed to return to the United States. Mr. Muthana claims that the Trump administration is “unconstitutionally robbing” his daughter of her citizenship. He is requesting that the courts issue an injunction.
Earlier this week, President Trump took to Twitter, urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to bar Hoda Muthana from entering the country:
I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
Pompeo announced the same day that Hoda would not be allowed back in the United States. Pompeo claimed that Hoda is not an American citizen and has no right to an American passport.
The legal challenge will certainly be complicated and precedent-setting. The United States uses a jus soli system that automatically grants citizenship to any person born on American soil and under the jurisdiction of American laws.
The latter part is where the case gets dicey. Ahmed Muthana came to the United States service as a Yemeni diplomat. As a diplomat, he was not the subject of U.S. laws—immunity doctrines applied. Traditionally, the children of diplomats who are born on American soil are not automatically granted citizenship under jus soli.
However, Ahmed Muthana claims that he had resigned from the diplomatic corps weeks before Hoda was born. He claims that he was no longer under diplomatic immunity and was thus the subject of American laws. As such, he contends that his daughter is, in fact, an American citizen.