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Ragasa v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 28, 2014

CRISANTO CARINO RAGASA, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General, Respondent

Argued and Submitted, University Of Hawaii, Manoa February 20, 2014

On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Agency No. A037-485-221.

M. Cora Avinante (argued), Law Office of M. Cora Avinante, Honolulu, Hawai'i, for Petitioner.

Theodore William Atkinson (argued), Trial Attorney; Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Ernesto H. Molina, Assistant Director; S. Nicole Nardone, Trial Attorney, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

Before: Michael Daly Hawkins, M. Margaret McKeown, and Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge McKeown.

OPINION

Page 1174

McKEOWN, Circuit Judge:

Crisanto Ragasa was born in the Philippines in 1966 to two married Filipino citizens (his " biological parents" ). At the age of fourteen, he immigrated to the United States and was adopted by his uncle and aunt (his " adoptive parents" ), both naturalized U.S. citizens. Years later in 2008, Ragasa was convicted in Hawai'i state court for " Attempted Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree," in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. § § 705-500(1)(b), 712-1241(1)(b)(ii). The government initiated immigration proceedings against Ragasa, a lawful permanent resident, charging him as a removable alien because of his drug-related conviction. The immigration judge (" IJ" ) ordered Ragasa removed, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (" BIA" ) dismissed his appeal from the IJ's removal order and denial of his application for cancellation of removal. Ragasa timely petitions for review of the BIA's decision. We have jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252, and we grant the petition.

I. Citizenship Claim

Contrary to his view, Ragasa did not automatically acquire U.S. citizenship from his adoptive parents under former Section 320 and 301(a)(7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (" INA" ). In analyzing this issue de novo, we look to " the law in effect at the time the critical events giving rise to eligibility occurred," which in this case are the dates of Ragasa's birth (1966), his entry into the United States (1980), and his adoption (1980). Minasyan v. Gonzales, 401 F.3d 1069, 1074-75 (9th Cir. 2005).

To begin, as an adopted child, Ragasa does not acquire citizenship under former Section 320(b) because he was neither " residing in the United States" nor " in the custody of his adoptive parents" at the time they naturalized. An Act to Amend the INA, Pub. L. No. 95-417, 92 Stat. 917 (1978) (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1431 (Supp. 1978)).[1] Nor does Ragasa qualify for citizenship under former Section 320(a) because Section 320(b), not Section 320(a), applies to adopted children. Id. Ragasa's contrary view rests on an interpretation of the statute that ignores the statutory text and renders Section 320(b) superfluous.

Page 1175

Chubb Custom Ins. Co. v. Space Sys./Loral, Inc., 710 F.3d 946, 966 (9th Cir. 2013) (" It is a well-established rule of statutory construction that courts should not interpret statutes in a way that renders a provision superfluous." ).

Ragasa's citizenship claim under former Section 301(a)(7) is equally unavailing because that section requires one parent to be a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth outside of the United States and the other to be an alien. An Act to Amend Section 301(a)(7) of the INA, Pub. L. No. 89-770, 80 Stat. 1322 (1966) (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1401(a)(7) (Supp. 1966)).[2] Neither of Ragasa's biological parents was a U.S. citizen when he was born. Although Ragasa's adoptive parents were naturalized U.S. citizens at the time of his birth, they did not become ...


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