538 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2008), 06-74494, Romero-Ruiz v. Mukasey

Docket Nº:06-74494.
Citation:538 F.3d 1057
Party Name:Christian Alfredo ROMERO-RUIZ, Petitioner, v. Michael B. MUKASEY, Attorney General, Respondent.
Case Date:August 13, 2008
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 1057

538 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2008)

Christian Alfredo ROMERO-RUIZ, Petitioner,

v.

Michael B. MUKASEY, Attorney General, Respondent.

No. 06-74494.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

August 13, 2008

Argued and Submitted April 17, 2008.

Page 1058

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1059

Vikram K. Badrinath, Vikram Badrinath, P.C., Tucson, AZ, for the petitioner.

Lauren E. Fascett, United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Washington, DC, for the respondent.

On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Agency No. A77-436-614.

Before: STEPHEN S. TROTT and SIDNEY R. THOMAS, Circuit Judges, and MICHAEL R. HOGAN,[*] District Judge.

Page 1060

THOMAS, Circuit Judge:

This petition for review presents the question of whether an immigrant who did not have lawful permanent resident status at the time of his mother's naturalization is eligible for derivative citizenship. We conclude that he is not, and deny the petition.

I

Christian Romero-Ruiz was born in Mexico in 1981, and entered the United States without admission or parole in 1985. Romero-Ruiz grew up in the United States, attending schools in Tucson, Arizona. In January 1999, while Romero-Ruiz was under the age of eighteen, his mother became a naturalized United States citizen. In March 1999, Romero-Ruiz filed an application for adjustment of status. While his application was pending, he left the United States to visit his grandmother in Mexico. Romero-Ruiz later testified that he understood that he was not supposed to leave the United States while his application was pending. Romero-Ruiz attempted to re-enter the United States in May 2000, and was turned away at the border. He was eventually allowed to re-enter after claiming to be a United States citizen.

In 2001, Romero-Ruiz's application for adjustment of status was denied. The stated reasons were that Romero-Ruiz had abandoned his application by leaving the United States and that he was inadmissible-and therefore ineligible for adjustment of status-for having made a false claim to United States citizenship. Romero-Ruiz was ordered to leave the United States, but failed to do so. In January 2003, he was served with a Notice to Appear, charging him with removability as an alien present in the United States without having been admitted or paroled.

In a 2003 hearing before an immigration judge (“IJ" ), Romero-Ruiz denied the allegation that he was not a citizen or national of the United States. He also argued that even if he was not a United States citizen, he should not be found inadmissible for having made a false claim to citizenship because he had reasonably believed that he was a United States citizen. He testified about the bases for this belief, including the assurances of teachers and coaches that his mother's naturalization while he was under the age of eighteen had conferred citizenship upon him. Romero-Ruiz also submitted a new application for adjustment of status, based on his marriage to a United States citizen. In the alternative, he requested voluntary departure. In addition, Romero-Ruiz admitted having been convicted of possession, manufacture, delivery, and advertisement of drug paraphernalia under Arizona Criminal Code § 13-3415, but argued that the conviction had been set aside.

The IJ denied Romero-Ruiz's requests for relief, and ordered him removed to Mexico. The IJ first determined that Romero-Ruiz was ineligible for derivative citizenship because he had not been a legal permanent resident at the time of his mother's naturalization. The IJ then found Romero-Ruiz statutorily ineligible for adjustment of status because he had been convicted of a crime relating to controlled substances, and because he had made a false claim of United States citizenship. The IJ stated that there was no evidence that Romero-Ruiz's application to set aside his conviction had been approved by a judge. The IJ also found that Romero-Ruiz did not fall under the exception to inadmissibility for making a false claim to citizenship because both of his parents were not United States citizens, and because he had applied for adjustment of status after his mother had naturalized, thus indicating that he did not believe her naturalization conferred citizenship upon him. Finally, the IJ...

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