Constitutional Law

5th Circuit: Feds applied law that didn't exist when deporting US citizen and others for decades

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For nearly 35 years, federal immigration authorities have been applying a U.S. law that cites the Mexican Constitution when determining whether to deport individuals who assert American citizenship.

But the cited constitutional provision doesn’t exist, as far as the claimed language concerning out-of-wedlock births was concerned, the Associated Press reports.

Now, after at least four deportations and a two-year detention over a period of some 20 years, a “legitimized” out-of-wedlock son born in Mexico to an American man and a Mexican woman has gotten a federal appeals court to hear his citizenship claim. And indeed, the New Orleasns-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in a Sept. 11 opinion (PDF), the claimed Article 314 of the Mexican Constitution relied on by the Department of Homeland Security to deport Sigifredo Saldana Iracheta doesn’t exist.

“In both Saldana’s case and other cases involving similar situations, DHS officers and the Administrative Appeals Office (‘AAO’) within DHS have relied on provisions of the Mexican Constitution that either never existed or do not say what DHS claims they say,” the 5th Circuit states in its opinion, granting Saldana’s petition for review of a DHS order.

That is little consolation to Saldana, 49, for the sleepless nights he has spent worrying about being deported, the low wages he earned as an undocumented laborer and the time he was forced to spend away from his family, the AP reports.

The DHS did not respond to a request for comment by the news agency.

Most such cases are never appealed, because those affected don’t have the money to retain counsel.

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