The family of Hoda Muthana, the Alabama woman who lied to her family and flew to Turkey to ultimately marry an ISIS fighter and use social media to call for the deaths of Americans, has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration saying they cannot unilaterally revoke what they claim is her citizenship by virtue of her birth in the United States.
Lawyers acting for Ahmed Ali Muthana, a former diplomat at the United Nations for Yemen who is a naturalized U.S. citizen and lives in Alabama, argue in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington D.C. late Thursday that remarks by Trump and other senior White House officials claiming that Hoda Muthana, 24, is no longer a U.S. citizen – thus barring her and her son from re-entering the USA – are unconstitutional.
At issue is whether or not Muthana, who is seeking to return to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Syria along with her 18-month-old son, is actually a citizen and covered by the 14th Amendment, which, the plaintiffs argue, states “‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside’ – that only the courts can decide whether a diplomat and/or family members are immune from this jurisdiction, not a ‘unilateral determination by the government.'”
The Trump administration, via a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and tweets from the President, appear to believe that Muthana was born before her father, who was a U.N. diplomat from Yemen, left his post. If true, this would make Muthana a non-citizen under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states a person born to a foreign diplomat stationed in the U.S. is not subject to U.S. law nor a citizen at birth.
But Ahmed Ali Muthana’s lawyers for the suit, the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, a Texas-based group, argue Trump, Pompeo and Barr are misinformed and that Muthana was in fact born after her father left diplomatic service.
If Muthana is discovered to be a citizen, she would be subject to due process rights under the 14th Amendment. Muthana is reportedly aware that she faces jail time if she returns to the U.S. and has said she intends to help “de-radicalize” other young Americans drawn to the Islamic State.
In April 2015, a year after Muthana told her parents she was going on a field trip to Atlanta for school credit but instead flew to Turkey to join the Islamic State, she expressed little remorse for her actions in an interview with Buzzfeed.
“I told her, ‘I’m going to send you money if you want, if this is what you need to do,’ [her father] Mohammed said, “But is going to go through channels. I’m not going to be able to send money like that; I’m not stupid to send money like that.” However, when Hoda stopped engaging in messages about her escape or providing more details about her specific plan, he said, he realized that his daughter was not being honest with him. “I realize that then she lies to us, once she get there,” he said.
Hoda confirmed to BuzzFeed News that she was not telling the truth to her father about why she wanted the money. “It would never cross my mind to come back,” she said. “I wanted to see if he’d help me out during troubling times. It was just a test. I knew he wouldn’t send me anything anyway.”
The Trump administration has not yet publicly responded to the lawsuit.