WASHINGTON, DC, May 16, 2019 – Today, a federal judge decided that a case filed against the State Department for refusing to recognize the birthright citizenship of Lucas Zaccari, the four-year-old son of U.S. citizen Allison Blixt and her Italian wife Stefania will go to trial. The judge denied the government’s motion to dismiss in its entirety. The case, filed by Immigration Equality and pro bono counsel challenges the State Department’s discriminatory policy, which conditions the recognition of birthright citizenship on a biological link to a married U.S. citizen parent.
“The judge’s decision to hear this case is an important step forward for the Zaccari-Blixt family and all families who are currently being denied equal treatment under the law.” said Aaron C. Morris, Executive Director of Immigration Equality and the couple’s attorney. “The government should change its policy, and we will keep fighting until they do.”
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Allison was born and raised in the U.S. and Stefania was born in Italy. When they met, Allison could not sponsor Stefania for a visa because of the Defense of Marriage Act, so the couple married in London and started a family. When they applied for U.S. passports for their children, the U.S. State Department only granted citizenship to Massi, the child that Allison carried. Lucas, carried by Stefania, was denied his right to citizenship at birth. Learn more about the Zaccari-Blixt family here.
“Though we wish we never had to fight this battle, we are relieved and reassured that our case is moving forward,” said plaintiff Allison Blixt.
If a U.S. citizen gets married to a foreign national abroad, the couple’s children are entitled to birthright citizenship whether the children are born in the U.S or not. Proving a biological connection between the child and the U.S. citizen parent is not required by law. As such, the State Department’s policy is contrary to the Immigration and Nationality Act, and to the clear intent of Congress when it passed the law.
In February 2019, a federal judge ruled on another case brought by Immigration and Sullivan & Cromwell, LLC against the State Department. The judge recognized the birthright citizenship of the child of another bi-national same-sex couple, stating that the law doesn’t require a biological connection between a married U.S. citizen and their child to pass on citizenship. In May 2019, the State Department appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Learn more about the Dvash-Banks case here.
Immigration Equality is the nation’s leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization. We represent and advocate for people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse, and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.