American still Incarcerated as Foreigner. Just in time for the 4th of July, a True Story of Freedom! Illegitimate Children Get a Second Chance at U.S. Citizenship!

July 03, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Just in time for the 4th of July, a True Story of Freedom!

Illegitimate Children Get a Second Chance at U.S. Citizenship!

While most Americans will simply be celebrating, some immigration attorneys will be spending the long weekend dusting off old files before heading to the backyard barbeque.

Just in time for the 4th of July, and thanks to the unrelenting drive of a Connecticut firefighter and former investigative news reporter turned attorney and an intrepid New York attorney for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, dozens, hundreds and potentially thousands of illegitimate, foreign-born children can now become American citizens.

This incredible story combines the Gulag of American immigration prisons with the twisted history of laws intended to give illegitimate children equal rights with those born in marriage.

Among the winners, Antonio Gorsira, imprisoned as a foreigner for over two years, and Lawrence Rowe, who, as of July 2, 2006 had been held in Homeland Security prison for over eight months and has yet to be released. Both are natives of Guyana, both were born to naturalized American mothers, and both were originally denied American citizenship based on a warped interpretation of remedial legislation intended to help, not hurt children born out of wedlock.

The decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals is titled, In re Lawrence ROWE and it was officially decided June 29, 2006. The case at the Board was handled by Attorney Thomas J. Mills of New York. The Board’s decision was based on a Connecticut District Court habeas corpus case handled by attorney and firefighter Roberto Tschudin Lucheme.

At the time, Antonio Gorsira was in Homeland Security incarceration, having wandered into a nursing home while intoxicated.

Because American citizens cannot be deported, Gorsira’s mother — who had become a naturalized American citizen while Gorsira was a child and in her custody — insisted her son was an American citizen, but nobody would listen.

In denying relief, immigration officials cited a prior BIA case called Matter of Goorahoo, which said that even if one was born illegitimate, because Guyana had passed laws to eliminate discrimination against illegitimate children, Gorsira was therefore legitimate in the eyes of the law.

Accordingly, went the reasoning, his parents had to be legally separated or divorced. This was obviously impossible, since the parents were never married in the first place.

Attorney Lucheme argued that this was a classic Catch-22, and absurd distortion of a law designed to protect, not hurt, illegitimate children. Lucheme pressed the matter in a habeas corpus case filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. He argued that the only sensible interpretation was to require classic legitimation – a subsequent marriage of the father and the mother – before depriving illegitimate children of derivative citizenship.

Luckily, U.S. District Court Judge Stephan Underhill agreed with Attorney Lucheme. Then, in one of the more intriguing developments, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut — after first appealing the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit — abandoned the appeal, saying he agreed with Attorney Lucheme and Judge Underhill’s interpretation.

Meanwhile, in New York, Attorney Mills had an identically situated Guyanese client stuck in Homeland Security incarceration. Mills read about Lucheme’s case and contacted him. Lucheme provided him with the arguments and a copy of the Judge Underhill’s decision. Mills tried to make the argument before the Immigration Judge in Rowe’s case, but Judge would have none of it and refused to give any weight to Judge Underhill’s decision.

Fortunately, Attorney Mills appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The Board, in a stunning move, just in time for our Nation’s birthday, reversed itself, declared Matter of Goorahoo a dead letter, and said it agreed with the arguments advanced by Attorney Lucheme and subscribed to by Judge Underhill.

So, after years cooling his feet in Homeland Security incarceration, Rowe is about to join Gorsira in regaining his freedom, perhaps to enjoy a 4th of July hot dog.

More importantly, dozens, hundreds, and perhaps thousands of illegitimate children born to naturalized Americans will now receive the derived citizenship that for all too long they have been denied.

Because although Gorsira and Rowe were native Guyanese, the decision applies to children from any country where true legitimation comes only through marriage.


For more information:

Roberto Tschudin Lucheme, Esq.
41 Hebron Avenue
Glastonbury, CT 06033
(860) 633-1962

T.J. Mills
Project Attorney
United Methodist Committee on Relief
475 Riverside Drive, #330
New York, NY 10115
Tel: 212 870 3507
FAX: 212 870 3624