One of the big questions surrounding the case of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for leaving Islam and now residing in the U.S. embassy in Sudan, is whether or not her two children could be considered U.S. citizens under the law.
That question now has an answer.
Joseph Grover Rees, left, then U.S. ambassador to East Timor, carries wreaths down to the sea in Dili, East Timor, to show sympathy for those killed in Hurricane Katrina in 2004. (AP photo)
Grover Joseph Rees, former general counsel to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (and former ambassador to East Timor) confirmed that according to U.S. law, Ibrahim's two children should be considered U.S. citizens.
Rees testified during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing Wednesday on Ibrahim's case, citing Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“When a child is born outside of the United States and its possessions to two parents — one of whom is a United States citizen, the other of whom is a foreign national — the child is a citizen at birth provided that the U.S. citizen [parent] has lived in the United States for at least five years before the birth and that two of those years were after the parent had reached the age of 14,” Rees said.
The father of the children, Daniel Wani, has been a U.S. citizen (confirmed by the State Department) since 2005 and first came to the U.S. in 1998 after fleeing Sudan. He returned to Sudan in 2011 to marry Ibrahim.
So, yes, he’s lived in the U.S. for at least five years. He’s 27 years old, meaning he was about 11 when he first came to America. But according to what we know of the case, he’s lived in America since then, meaning at least two of those years were after he turned 14.
“It seems pretty clear that these two children are United States citizens and should be certified as such,” Rees said, based on the facts of the case.