CITES BY TOPIC:  naturalization

Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1026:

Naturalization.  The process by which a person acquires nationality after birth and becomes entitled to the privileges of U.S. citizenship.  8 U.S.C.A. 1401 et seq..

In the United States collective naturalization occurs when designated groups are made citizens by treaty (as Louisiana Purchase), or by a law of Congress (as in annexation of Texas and Hawaii).  Individual naturalization must follow certain steps: (a) petition for naturalization by a person of lawful age who has been a lawful resident of the United States for 5 years; (b) investigation by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to determine whether the applicant can speak and write the English language, has a knowledge of the fundamentals of American government and history, is attached to the principles of the Constitution and is of good moral character; (c) hearing before a U.S. District Court or certain State courts of record; and (d) after a lapse of at least 30 days a second appearance in court when the oath of allegiance is administered.

[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1026]

8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(23) naturalization defined

(a)(23) The term ''naturalization'' means the conferring of nationality [NOT "citizenship" or "U.S. citizenship", but "nationality", which means "U.S. national"] of a state upon a person after birth, by any means whatsoever.

[NOTE:  Compare with the definition of "expatriation"]

Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884):

But an emigrant from any foreign state cannot become a citizen of the United States without a formal renunciation of his old allegiance, and an acceptance by the United States of that renunciation through such form of naturalization as may be required law.

[Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884)]

U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 160 U.S. 649 (1898):

The power, granted to congress by the constitution, 'to establish an uniform rule of naturalization,' was long ago adjudged by this court to be vested exclusively in congress. Chirac v. Chirac (1817) 2 Wheat. 259. For many years after the establishment of the original constitution, and until two years after the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, congress never authorized the naturalization of any one but 'free white persons.' Acts March 26, 1790, c. 3, and Jan. 29, 1795, c. 20 (1 Stat. 103, 414); April 14, 1802, c. 28, and March 26, 1804, c. 47 (2 Stat. 153, 292); March 22, 1816, c. 32 (3 Stat. 258); May 26, 1824, c. 186, and May 24, 1828, c. 116 ( 4 Stat. 69, 310). By the treaty between the United States and China, made July 28, 1868, and promulgated February 5, 1870, it was provided that 'nothing herein contained shall be held to confer naturalization upon citizens of the United States in China, nor upon the subjects of China in the United States.' 16 Stat. 740. By the act of July 14, 1870, c. 254, 7, for the first time, the naturalization laws were 'extended to aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent.' Id . 256. This extension, as embodied in the Revised Statutes, took the form of providing that those laws should 'apply to aliens [being free white persons, and to aliens] of African nativity and to persons of African descent'; and it was amended by the act of Feb. [169 U.S. 649, 702]   18, 1875, c. 80, by inserting the words above printed in brackets. Rev. St . (2d Ed.) 2169 (18 Stat. 318). Those statutes were held, by the circuit court of the United States in California, not to embrace Chinese aliens. In re Ah Yup (1878) 5 Sawy. 155, Fed. Cas. No. 104. And by the act of May 6, 1882, c. 126, 14, it was expressly enacted that, 'hereafter no state court or court of the United States shall admit Chinese to citizenship.' 22 Stat. 61.

Collet v. Collet, 2 U.S. 294; 1 L.Ed. 387 (1792):

The question, now agitated, depends upon another question; whether the State of Pennsylvania, since the 26th of March, 1790, (when the act of Congress was passed) has a right to naturalize an alien?  And this must receive its answer from the solution of a third question; whether, according to the constitution of the United States, the authority to naturalize is exclusive, or concurrent?  We are of the opinion, then, that the States individually, still enjoy a concurrent authority upon this subject; but their individual authority cannot be exercised, so as to contravene the rule established by the authority of the Union."

The true reason for investing Congress with the power of naturalization has been assigned at the Bar: -- It was to guard against too narrow, instead of too liberal, a mode of conferring the rights of citizenship.  Thus, the individual States cannot exclude those citizens, who have been adopted by the United States; but they can adopt citizens upon easier terms, than those which Congress may deem it expedient to impose.

But the act of Congress itself, furnishes a strong proof that the power of naturalization is concurrent.  In the concluding proviso, it is declared, "that no person heretofore proscribed by any State, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid, except by an act of the Legislature of the State, in which such person was proscribed."  Here, we find, that Congress has not only circumscribed the exercise of its own authority, but has recognized the authority of a State Legislature, in one case, to admit a citizen of the United States; which could not be done in any case, if the power of naturalization, either by its own nature, or by the manner of its being vested in the Federal Government, was an exclusive power. 

[Collet v. Collet, 2 U.S. 294; 1 L.Ed. 387 (1792)]

PDF Osborn v. Bank of U.S., 22 U.S. 738 (1824)

**33 A naturalized citizen is indeed made a citizen under an act of Congress, but the act does not proceed to give, to regulate, or to prescribe his capacities. He becomes a member of the society, possessing all the rights of a native citizen, and standing, in the view of the constitution, on the footing of a native. The constitution does not authorize Congress to enlarge or abridge those rights. The simple power of the national Legislature, is to prescribe a uniform rule of naturalization, and the exercise of this power exhausts it, so far as respects the individual. The constitution then takes him up, and, among other rights, extends to him the capacity of suing in the Courts of the United States, precisely under the same circumstances under which a native might sue. He is *828 distinguishable in nothing from a native citizen, except so far as the constitution makes the distinction. The law makes none.

There is, then, no resemblance between the act incorporating the Bank, and the general naturalization law.

Osborn v. Bank of U.S., 22 U.S. 738 (1824)]

United States Code Annotated, Constitution of the United States, Article I-The Congress:




Current through P.L. 106-73, approved 10-19-1999

Section 8, Clause 4. Naturalization and Bankruptcy

Citizenship by naturalization can only be acquired pursuant to regulations and forms prescribed by Congress.  > In re Fabbri, E.D.Mich.1966, 254 F.Supp. 858.

Equal protection was violated by former statute granting citizenship to foreign-born offspring of male United States citizens and foreign mothers but not to those of female United States citizens and foreign fathers;  having allowed parents to transmit citizenship to their children, Congress could not permit only male parents to do so without at least some rationale.  > Elias v. U.S. Dept. of State, N.D.Cal.1989, 721 F.Supp. 243.

Eleventh Amendment restricts judicial power under Article III, and Article I cannot be used to circumvent constitutional limitations placed upon federal jurisdiction.  > In re Martinez, D.Puerto Rico 1996, 196 B.R. 225.

This clause authorizes Congress to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and, when Congress establishes such uniform rule, those who come within its provisions are entitled to the benefit thereof as matter of right.  > Schwab v. Coleman, C.C.A.4 (Md.) 1944, 145 F.2d 672.   See, also, > Maicantonio v. U.S., C.A.Md.1950, 185 F.2d 934.

When a naturalization law is made by its terms applicable alike to all the states of the Union, without distinction or discrimination, it cannot be successfully questioned on the ground that it is not uniform, in the sense of the Constitution, merely because its operation or working may be wholly different in one state from another.  > Darling v. Berry, C.C.Iowa 1882, 13 F. 659, 4 McCrary 470.

The federal acts on naturalization are to be uniformly enforced in view of the express requirement that the rule of naturalization shall be uniform.  > Petition of Schulz, Pa.1956, 121 A.2d 164, 384 Pa. 558.

            The power of naturalization is exclusively in Congress.  > Chirac v. Chirac's Lessee, U.S.Md.1817, 15 U.S. 259, 4 L.Ed. 234, 2 Wheat. 259.   See, also, remarks of Woodbury, J., in > Norris v. Boston, Mass.1849, 48 U.S. 283, 7 How. 283, 12 L.Ed. 702;  Golden v. Prince, C.C.Pa.1814, 3 Wash., U.S., 313, 10 Fed.Cas. No. 5,509.

Congress is vested with authority over naturalization, but executive's wide discretion in foreign affairs may affect national policy toward noncitizens.  > Olegario v. U. S., C.A.2 (N.Y.) 1980, 629 F.2d 204, certiorari denied > 101 S.Ct. 1513, 450 U.S. 980, 67 L.Ed.2d 814.

Under constitutional provisions, Congress has plenary, unqualified authority to determine which aliens shall be admitted to the country, period they may remain, and terms and conditions of their naturalization.  > U. S. v. Gordon-Nikkar, C.A.5 (Fla.) 1975, 518 F.2d 972.

The prescribing of rules to be followed in granting of naturalization is a matter for Congress and not for the courts, and, while courts may exercise a discretion as to granting of continuances, such discretion must be exercised within framework of the law, not to add to or subtract from its provisions.  > Schwab v. Coleman, C.C.A.4 (Md.) 1944, 145 F.2d 672.

The power to declare who may become citizens of the United States rests with the Congress, and not with the courts, and neither the courts nor any administrative agency may extend or restrict the requirements established by Congress.  Ex parte > Fillibertie, E.D.S.C.1945, 62 F.Supp. 744.

Congress possesses exclusive right to regulate immigration and naturalization.  > Purdy and Fitzpatrick v. State, Cal.1969, 456 P.2d 645, 79 Cal.Rptr. 77, 71 Cal.2d 566.

Although aliens are entitled to due process protection, Congress has broad authority in setting requirements for naturalization.  > Trujillo-Hernandez v. Farrell, C.A.5 (Tex.) 1974, 503 F.2d 954, certiorari denied > 95 S.Ct. 1976, 421 U.S. 977, 44 L.Ed.2d 468.

Aliens enjoy certain fundamental constitutional rights while in United States but Congress has broad powers, subject only to very limited judicial review, in legislating on matter of immigration laws and naturalization policies.  > Pedroza-Sandoval v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, C.A.7 1974, 498 F.2d 899.

Congress, in regulating immigration, may use any appropriate means to reach desired ends, including performing functions that are normally performed by the state.  > Royalton College, Inc. v. Clark, D.C.Vt.1969, 295 F.Supp. 365.

Traditional caution about plenary authority of Congress to act with respect to naturalization does not mandate unusual deference to be shown classification embodied in V.T.C.A., Education Code 21.031 which withheld from local school districts any state funds for education of children who were not "legally admitted" into United States and which authorized local school districts to deny enrollment to such children.  > Plyler v. Doe, U.S.Tex.1982, 102 S.Ct. 2382, 457 U.S. 202, 72 L.Ed.2d 786, rehearing denied > 103 S.Ct. 14, 458 U.S. 1131, 73 L.Ed.2d 1401.

Any incentive provided by McKinney's N.Y. Education Law 661, subd. 3, limiting certain scholarships and loans for higher education to United States citizens or aliens who have applied for citizenship or intend to do so as soon as they qualify which encourages an alien to become naturalized is not a proper state concern since control over immigration and naturalization is exclusively a federal function.  > Nyquist v. Mauclet, U.S.N.Y.1977, 97 S.Ct. 2120, 432 U.S. 1, 53 L.Ed.2d 63.

It is peculiarly the general government's power to determine who are entitled to the privileges of American citizens and the protection of the American government;  states may not enact their own laws of naturalization.  > Ogden v. Saunders, U.S.La.1827, 25 U.S. 213, 6 L.Ed. 606, 12 Wheat. 213.

State naturalization laws are superseded and annulled by an Act of Congress on the subject, as the jurisdiction of Congress upon the subject is exclusive.  Collet v. Collet, Pa.1792, 2 U.S. 294, 2 Dall. 294, 1 L.Ed. 387.   See, also, Matthew v. Rae, C.C.Dist.Col.1829, 3 Cranch, C.C., 699, 16 Fed.Cas. No. 9,284.

It is not in the power of a state to denationalize a foreign subject who has not complied with the federal naturalization laws, and constitute him a citizen of the United States or of a state, so as to deprive the federal courts of jurisdiction over a controversy between him and a citizen of a state, conferred upon them by Art. III, sec. 2, and the Acts of Congress.  > City of Minneapolis v. Reum, C.C.A.8 (Minn.) 1893, 56 F. 576, 6 C.C.A. 31.

A state cannot make the subject of a foreign government a citizen of the United States.  Lanz v. Randall, C.C.Minn.1876, 14 F.Cas. 1131, 24 Pitts.L.J. 68, No. 8080.   See, also, > Minneapolis v. Reum, C.C.A.Minn.1893, 56 F. 576.

Congress had power to impose duty upon clerk of state court exercising jurisdiction to naturalize alien, to collect and account for naturalization fees, as against contention that the power of state to govern its own officers by means of its own laws was exclusive.  State of Indiana ex rel. U.S. v. Killigrew, C.C.A.7 (> Ind.) 1941, 117 F.2d 863.

Congress has authority to vest in the courts of the states having common-law jurisdiction the judicial power to admit qualified aliens to citizenship, and in the absence of legislative authority or permission from the states which created them, such courts may lawfully exercise this power.  > Levin v. U.S., C.C.A.8 (Mo.) 1904, 128 F. 826, 63 C.C.A. 476.   See, also, > Holmgren v. U.S., Cal.1910, 30 S.Ct. 588, 217 U.S. 509, 54 L.Ed. 861, 19 Ann.Cas. 778;  > State v. Quill, 1913, 102 N.E. 106, 53 Ind.App. 495;  > Hampden County v. Morris, 1911, 93 N.E. 579, 207 Mass. 167, Ann.Cas.1912A, 815;  > State v. Superior Court, 1913, 134 P. 916, 75 Wash. 239, Ann.Cas.1915C, 425.

The power to naturalize by virtue of acts of Congress is a judicial one, and Congress has no power to confer jurisdiction upon the courts of a state, but the power may be exercised by these courts when state legislation has so provided under the uniform rule established by the various Acts of Congress.  Ex parte Knowles, 1855, 5 Cal. 302.

Congress, in the exercise of the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, has enacted general laws under which individuals may be naturalized, but the instances of collective naturalization by treaty or by statute are numerous.  > Boyd v. State of Nebraska, U.S.Neb.1892, 12 S.Ct. 375, 143 U.S. 135, 36 L.Ed. 103.   See, also, > State v. Boyd, 1892, 51 N.W. 602, 31 Neb. 682.

Status of citizenship of United States is privilege, and Congress is free to attach any preconditions to its attainment that it deems fit and proper.  > In re Thanner, D.C.Colo.1966, 253 F.Supp. 283.   See, also, > Boyd v. Nebraska, Neb.1892, 12 S.Ct. 375, 143 U.S. 162, 36 L.Ed. 103;  > Application of Bernasconi, D.C.Cal.1953, 113 F.Supp. 71;  > In re Martinez, D.C.Pa.1947, 73 F.Supp. 101;  > U.S. v. Morelli, D.C.Cal.1943, 55 F.Supp. 181;  In re De Mayo, D.C.Mo.1938, 26 F.Supp. 696;  > State v. Boyd, 1892, 51 N.W. 602, 31 Neb. 682.

The distinction between citizenship by birth and citizenship by naturalization is clearly marked in the provisions of the Constitution, by which "no person, except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President;"  and "the Congress shall have power to establish an uniform rule of naturalization".  > Elk v. Wilkins, Neb.1884, 5 S.Ct. 41, 112 U.S. 101, 28 L.Ed. 643.  > Luria v. U.S., U.S.N.Y.1913, 34 S.Ct. 10, 231 U.S. 9, 58 L.Ed. 101.

Members of Congress were not entitled to preliminary injunction directed to the President to prevent him from initiating war against Iraq without first securing a declaration of war or other explicit congressional authorization, as controversy was not ripe for judicial decision;  controversy would not be ripe until majority of Congress sought relief from infringement on constitutional war-declaration power, and the Executive Branch had shown a commitment to a definitive course of action.  > Dellums v. Bush, D.D.C.1990, 752 F.Supp. 1141.

Under the plenary power of Congress over naturalization, Congress can deny citizenship to aliens entirely and may prescribe any conditions for granting the privilege it sees fit and may delegate application of its power to the courts.  > In re Taran, D.C.Minn.1943, 52 F.Supp. 535.

Aside from limitation of Amend. 14, Congress has no general power, express or implied, to take away an American citizen's citizenship without his consent.  > Afroyim v. Rusk, U.S.N.Y.1967, 87 S.Ct. 1660, 387 U.S. 253, 18 L.Ed.2d 757.

The power of Congress to provide for denaturalization comes from this clause and the "necessary and proper" clause of Art. I, 8, cl. 18.  > Knauer v. U. S., U.S.Wis.1946, 66 S.Ct. 1304, 328 U.S. 654, 90 L.Ed. 1500, rehearing denied > 67 S.Ct. 25, 329 U.S. 818, 91 L.Ed. 697.

The power of naturalization vested in Congress by this clause is a power to confer citizenship, and not a power to take it away.  > U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, U.S.Cal.1898, 18 S.Ct. 456, 169 U.S. 649, 42 L.Ed. 890.   See, also, > Terada v. Dulles, D.C.Hawaii 1954, 121 F.Supp. 6.

The power of naturalization, vested in Congress by this clause, is power to confer citizenship, not to take it away, and change of citizenship cannot be arbitrarily imposed by Congress without citizen's concurrence.  > Perri v. Dulles, C.A.3 (N.J.) 1953, 206 F.2d 586.

This clause and clause 18 granting Congress power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization and power to make all laws necessary and proper to carry into execution granted powers empower Congress to provide for cancellation of certificates of naturalization.  > U S v. Jerome, S.D.N.Y.1953, 115 F.Supp. 818.

A Filipino's status as a national of the United States prior to July 4, 1946 gave him no vested right in that status;  and the alteration of his nationality by the creation of the Republic of the Philippines, of which he became a citizen by operation of law, was not in excess of congressional power over naturalization.  > Cabebe v. Acheson, D.C.Hawai'i 1949, 84 F.Supp. 639, affirmed > 183 F.2d 795.

If right of exit from the United States, which is a personal right, is to be regulated it must be pursuant to lawmaking function of Congress.  > Kent v. Dulles, U.S.Dist.Col.1958, 78 S.Ct. 1113, 357 U.S. 116, 2 L.Ed.2d 1204.

The Constitution is silent on the subject of expatriation, and that department which can nationalize must be held to have authority to expatriate.  > Comitis v. Parkerson, C.C.E.D.La.1893, 56 F. 556, error dismissed > 16 S.Ct. 1200, 163 U.S. 681, 41 L.Ed. 307.