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MALDONADO-SANCHEZ v. SHULTZ

January 30, 1989

RICARDO MALDONADO-SANCHEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE P. SHULTZ, Defendant


Norma Holloway Johnson, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHNSON

NORMA HOLLOWAY JOHNSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Plaintiff, Ricardo Maldonado-Sanchez, upon his birth in New York City, New York, on August 4, 1948, acquired dual citizenship in both the United States and Venezuela, the latter due to his parents' Venezuelan citizenship. *fn1" On June 15, 1967, plaintiff, then age 18, and his father went to the United States Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, where he executed a renunciation of citizenship, which resulted in a Certificate of Loss of Nationality ("CLN"). *fn2"

 While in the United States on a visitor's visa in 1986, plaintiff applied for and was denied a United States passport. The State Department informed plaintiff that because he had been issued a CLN, he was no longer a United States citizen and, therefore, could not be issued a passport. Plaintiff appealed to the State Department's Board of Appellate Review which, after a hearing, dismissed plaintiff's claim for lack of jurisdiction. Defendant's Ex. 13. Having exhausted his administrative remedies, plaintiff sought relief in this court.

 Plaintiff maintains that he did not renounce his United States citizenship knowingly or voluntarily. He claims that he was coerced and misled by his father to give up his citizenship. After he registered for the draft, following his eighteenth birthday, his mother became despondent over the possibility that he would be drafted, sent to Vietnam, and killed. When plaintiff's high school graduation was imminent and he had not been accepted into the universities favored by his father, he asserts that his father unilaterally determined that plaintiff should give up his U.S. citizenship to avoid the draft.

 Plaintiff claims that he protested to his father that he could try to get into other colleges and thereby elude the draft but his father would not permit this. Instead, the plaintiff's father insisted that the whole family move to Italy where they would try to enroll plaintiff in a university. Before Italy, however, the family would stop briefly in Venezuela for plaintiff to renounce his United States citizenship.

 Plaintiff claims that he had no choice in this matter. He states that his father was a very strong-willed man who would not permit defiance by his son. Plaintiff claims that his father told him the renunciation was not permanent and that he could regain his U.S. citizenship after the war. Plaintiff avers that for both economic and emotional reasons, he could not defy his father and remain in the United States.

 At the United States Embassy in Venezuela, plaintiff claims that he was given a form to fill out and spoke very briefly with the Vice-Consul. He admits that the Vice-Consul advised him that his renunciation would be permanent. He claims, however, that this was the first time he had been so informed and chose not to believe this official but rather to believe his father, who had consistently declared that it was only temporary, prior to his arrival at the Embassy.

 Plaintiff claims, therefore, that he did not voluntarily renounce his citizenship and that he had no intention, at the time of the renunciation, to permanently give up his U.S. citizenship. He maintains that he was coerced by the strength of family pressure and the lack of correct information into relinquishing his citizenship.

 Defendant, Secretary of the State Department ("Secretary"), moves to dismiss the complaint as being barred by the statute of limitations or for summary judgment. Defendant argues that the CLN was issued upon a determination that plaintiff voluntarily and intentionally relinquished his citizenship. Moreover, the Secretary contends that plaintiff may not, some twenty years after the fact, challenge the issuance of his CLN since the statute of limitations on such challenges is five years. Plaintiff, on the other hand, contends that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until his request for a passport in 1986 was denied. After careful consideration of the submissions of the parties and the relevant case law, the motion of defendant will be granted.

 DISCUSSION

 A. Statute of Limitations

 
"If any person who is within the United States claims a right or privilege as a national of the United States and is denied such right or privilege by any department . . . upon the ground that he is not a national of the United States, such person may institute an action under the provisions of section 2201 of Title 28 . . . An action under this subsection may be instituted only within five years after the final administrative denial of such right or privilege . . . ."

 Defendant claims that the "final administrative" action referred to in this statute was the issuance of the CLN in 1967, declaring plaintiff's renunciation of citizenship. Plaintiff maintains that the "final administrative" action is the request and subsequent denial of a U.S. passport in 1986, which is clearly within the five-year limitations period. Thus, the ...


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