United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
August 12, 1980
LAURENCE J. TERRAZAS, PLAINTIFF,
EDMUND S. MUSKIE, SECRETARY OF STATE, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marovitz, District Judge.
Petition for Judgment
Plaintiff originally commenced this action against defendant
United States Secretary of State under 8 U.S.C. § 1503(a) seeking
a reversal of an administrative determination that, pursuant to
8 U.S.C. § 1481, plaintiff had relinquished his United States
citizenship. The course taken thereafter by this
litigation has included a trial de novo in this Court, with a
judgment entered in favor of defendant, Terrazas v. Vance, No.
75-2370 (N.D.Ill., Aug. 16, 1977) (hereinafter cited as
Memorandum Opinion), a reversal of this Court by the Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals on the ground that the evidentiary
standards prescribed by Congress in 8 U.S.C. § 1481 abridged
the Fourteenth Amendment, Terrazas v. Vance, 577 F.2d 7 (7th
Cir. 1978), and a reversal of the Seventh Circuit's holding by
the Supreme Court. Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252, 100 S.Ct.
540, 62 L.Ed.2d 461 (1980). Now, pursuant to successive remands
by the Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit, this matter is
again before this Court.
Pending before the Court is plaintiff's petition for
judgment. To summarize plaintiff's petition, he contends that
the evidence presented at the trial of this action does not
support a finding that plaintiff ever intended to relinquish
his citizenship, intent being a requisite element of the loss
of one's citizenship. Id. at 260-261, 100 S.Ct. at 545.
Defendant has filed a response in opposition to plaintiff's
motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies
plaintiff's petition and affirms the judgment it entered
earlier in this matter.
Because the facts leading up to the commencement of this
action may be easily culled from the earlier opinions rendered
in this case, the Court will not repeat them here. See id.;
Vance v. Terrazas, 577 F.2d 7; Memorandum Opinion. However,
since an understanding of the previous rulings in this case is
helpful to an understanding of the Court's disposition today,
the Court will more fully explain those rulings.
This Court's memorandum opinion issued in conjunction with
its findings of fact and conclusions of law explained that, in
this Court's opinion, the relevant body of law in this sort of
action is 8 U.S.C. § 1481 and the Fourteenth Amendment, as
interpreted by the Supreme Court in Afroyim v. Rusk,
387 U.S. 253, 87 S.Ct. 1660, 18 L.Ed.2d 757 (1967). 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a)
sets forth certain acts, including taking an oath of allegiance
to a foreign state, which are deemed acts of expatriation.
8 U.S.C. § 1481(c) provides, in pertinent part, that:
Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put
in issue . . . the burden shall be upon the person or
party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish
such claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Except
as otherwise provided in subsection (b), any person
who commits or performs, or has committed or
preformed, any act of expatriation under the
provisions of this or any other Act shall be presumed
to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may
be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the
evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed
were not done voluntarily.
Afroyim stands for the proposition, inter alia, that while
Congress may generally prescribe the evidentiary standards
which shall obtain in expatriation proceedings, no person's
citizenship may be destroyed absent a finding that he intended
to relinquish his citizenship. Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. at
268, 87 S.Ct. at 1668. Thus, an act of expatriation is not in
and of itself sufficient to destroy one's citizenship. Vance v.
Terrazas, 444 U.S. at 261-262, 100 S.Ct. at 545.
Applying the above law to the Court's evaluation of the
evidence presented at trial, it concluded both that plaintiff
had voluntarily committed an act of expatriation within the
meaning of section 1481 and that plaintiff had voluntarily
relinquished his citizenship. Without thoroughly recounting the
Court's evaluation of the evidence, see Memorandum Opinion, the
Court simply notes that the evidence relied upon by the Court
included the fact that plaintiff took an oath of allegiance to
Mexico in 1971 which included language renunciating his United
States citizenship, plaintiff's course of conduct during
1970-71 indicated an intention to make Mexico his permanent
home, plaintiff sought to avoid certain obligations of United
States citizenship, and that at the relevant time plaintiff was
a literate and mature individual.
Among the specific findings and conclusions of the Court,
were that: "(1) Laurence
J. Terrazas' words and conduct show that he knowingly and
voluntarily took the Mexican oath of allegiance and renounced
allegiance to the United States," Memorandum Opinion at 12
(emphasis added); "(2) Laurence J. Terrazas actively and
voluntarily sought the issuance of a Certificate of Loss of
United States citizenship;" id.; "(3) Defendant has proved by a
preponderance of the evidence that Laurence J. Terrazas
knowingly, understandingly and voluntarily took an oath of
allegiance to Mexico, and concurrently renounced allegiance to
the United States;" id. (emphasis added); and "(4) Laurence J.
Terrazas voluntarily relinquished United States citizenship
pursuant to § 349(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
of 1952, 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a)(2)."*fn1 Id. Hence, the Court
entered judgment for defendant.
On appeal to the Seventh Circuit, plaintiff challenged the
constitutional validity of section 1481(c)'s preponderance of
the evidence standard of proof. More specifically, plaintiff
asserted that the Government must establish the elements of a
loss of citizenship by clear and convincing proof. The Seventh
Circuit agreed, reasoning that the loss of one's citizenship is
such a serious loss that the clear and convincing standard is
constitutionally mandated. Accordingly, the Seventh Circuit
ruled section 1481(c) to be invalid.
The Seventh Circuit, however, did not overturn any of this
Court's factual findings, and noted that under the evidentiary
standard prescribed by section 1481(c) this Court's ultimate
conclusion was correctly reached. Id. at 10. Moreover, in
connection with its remand instructions, the Seventh Circuit
intimated that the evidence might support a judgment in
defendant's favor even in light of the stricter standard of
proof which the Seventh Circuit sought to require. Id. at 12.
Before this Court could rule on the evidence pursuant to the
Seventh Circuit's remand, the Supreme Court reversed the
Seventh Circuit's holding that section 1481(c) was
unconstitutional, affirming Congress's prerogative to legislate
a preponderance of the evidence standard of proof. Vance v.
Terrazas, 444 U.S. at 264-267, 100 S.Ct. at 547-48. That
portion of the Supreme Court's opinion which prompted
plaintiff's instant petition for judgment was occasioned by the
Government's assertion before the Supreme Court, apparently for
the first time during the course of this litigation, that the
Government need not establish an intent to relinquish
citizenship in order to destroy one's citizenship, only that
one of section 1481's enumerated acts has been committed. Id.
at 256-257, 100 S.Ct. at 543. The Supreme Court rejected that
argument, holding that while the acts of expatriation specified
in section 1481(a) may be highly persuasive on the question of
intent, acts of expatriation neither are conclusive evidence of
an intent to relinquish citizenship nor raise a presumption of
an intent to relinquish.*fn2 Id. at 264-267, 100 S.Ct. at 547,
548. In short, the Supreme Court made it clear that it is the
Government's burden to establish by a preponderance of the
evidence both that an intent to expatriate was manifested, as
well as that an act of expatriation was committed. Id. at 268,
100 S.Ct. at 549.
As stated, plaintiff contends that the evidence does not
support a finding that he intentionally relinquished his
citizenship. Plaintiff's argument, however, will simply not
withstand analysis. First, neither the Supreme Court nor the
Seventh Circuit, while both recognized that an intent to
relinquish citizenship is a requisite element of the withdrawal
of citizenship, in any way
suggested that this Court did not find such intent on
plaintiff's part. On the contrary, the opinions of those courts
suggest that this Court did properly find the requisite intent.
Id. at 254-255, 100 S.Ct. at 542; Vance v.Terrazas, 577 F.2d at
Second, a careful reading of this Court's memorandum opinion
clearly belies plaintiff's contention. The findings and
conclusions of this Court which are set out in full supra
indicate that the Court distinctly found that plaintiff had
knowingly and voluntarily performed an act of expatriation
within the meaning of section 1481(a)(i.e., took an oath of
allegiance to Mexico) and renounced allegiance to the United
States. While the Court is not unmindful of the slight
semantical difference between a finding that plaintiff
voluntarily renounced allegiance to the United States and a
finding that he intentionally relinquished his citizenship, the
Court intended the latter finding to be fully encompassed
within the former. Indeed, much of the Court's discussion in
its Memorandum Opinion was devoted to an explanation of how the
evidence presented at trial established an intent by plaintiff
to surrender his citizenship. The Court's painstaking review of
the evidence presented in this case only affirms its conclusion
that plaintiff intended to abandon his United States
Plaintiff argues that the fact that he has now for several
years fought to retain his citizenship is persuasive evidence
of his lack of an intention to ever abandon his citizenship.
The relevant inquiry, however, is plaintiff's state of mind
during 1970-71, and, therefore, plaintiff's argument misses the
point. Rather, plaintiff's struggle to retain his citizenship
is likely evidence of his realization of the gravity of his
earlier decision to relinquish his citizenship.
Finally, the Court pauses to comment that it does not at all
view lightly the loss of one's United States citizenship or
mean to imply that it may be easily lost. In a world where the
value of most commodities is subject to ever-rapid fluctuation,
United States citizenship remains a priceless commodity. United
States citizenship confers a bundle of rights which often serve
to insulate the holders thereof from the inhumanity which today
reigns in much of the world. In return, the Government demands
only that "they who live under its protection should demean
themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their
effectual support." Letter from George Washington to Jewish
Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island (1790).
On many occasions, this Court has had the privilege of
conducting naturalization ceremonies for persons totaling over
the years in the thousands. To be sure, the task the Court
performed on those occasions was infinitely more pleasurable
than the one it is obliged to perform in this case. However,
the evidence in this case that plaintiff intentionally
abandoned his United States citizenship is clear, convincing,
and nearly overwhelming. The Court thought as much in 1977 and
does so today. Accordingly, the Court hereby denies plaintiff's
petition and affirms its earlier award of judgment in favor of