Judge William Kuntz

Born in Panama in 1970, Headley-Ombler was deported on Jan. 25, 2012, based on a prior aggravated felony conviction. During his removal proceedings he unsuccessfully argued that he was not subject to deportation because he had derivative citizenship through his mother’s naturalization in November 1988—two months before his 18th birthday. After removal proceedings ended, Headley-Ombler sought a certificate of citizenship, again asserting derivative citizenship through his mother’s naturalization. Plaintiff’s application was denied, and he sought declaratory judgment of citizenship pursuant to 8 USC §1503(a). Holding that it lacked jurisdiction, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment action with prejudice. Although §1503(a) vests district courts with authority to grant a declaration of citizenship in certain circumstances, an exception to such jurisdiction exists where the issue of a person’s status as a national of the United States arose by reason of, or in connection with, any removal proceeding. The court ruled that under §1503(a)’s “plain meaning” an alien who previously raised the issue of citizenship during past removal proceedings may not later bring a declaratory judgment action under §1503(a).