"Under the Age of Eighteen Years"

(Eugene Volokh) Ramon Duarte-Ceri's mother became a U.S. citizen on his 18th birthday. Then-effective federal law "grant[ed] derivative citizenship to certain children whose parents are naturalized while they are still 'under the age of eighteen years.'" Did Duarte-Ceri therefore become a citizen? (This became especially important because he committed various crimes that led the government to try to deport him.) In Duarte-Ceri v. Holder (2d Cir. Dec. 6), two judges held – over the third judge's dissent – that the question turns on exactly when on June 14, 1973 Duarte-Ceri was born. If he was born earlier in the day than the naturalization ceremony happened on June 14, 1991, he was over 18 and thus didn't automatically become a citizen. If he was born later in the day, then he was under 18 and thus did automatically become a citizen. The dissent disagreed, arguing that usually "[when the child is] under the age of eighteen years" is read by courts as meaning the same thing as "prior to the child's eighteenth birthday." Read the opinion for more discussion of the precedents, and the various statutory constitution arguments. Thanks to Steve Newman for the pointer.

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