Damion Davis

Damion Davis moved to the U.S. from Jamaica as a lawful permanent resident in 1989, when he was 11 years old. As a child, he lived in Staten Island, NY with his father, who naturalized to U.S. citizenship when Damion was 16. Damion now considers Pennsylvania, where everyone he loves lives, to be his home. Yet for nearly 4 years, ICE has been trying to deport him to Jamaica – even though his attorneys say he should have derived citizenship through his father long ago. For Damion, being separated from his wife and children and deported to a country he does not remember is a devastating possibility.

Today, when a child is admitted to the United States to live with a parent who naturalizes to U.S. citizenship, the child automatically becomes a citizen, too. But when Damion was growing up in New York, U.S. derivative citizenship laws created obstacles for children born outside of legal “wedlock” who had U.S. citizen fathers – even when the father had legal custody – excluding many who were otherwise eligible from becoming citizens. Although the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) now allows marital and nonmarital children to receive citizenship through either custodial parent, these reforms did not apply to children who had already turned 18 by the time the CCA took effect on February 27, 2001.

The Equal Citizenship for Children Act (ECCA) would close this gap by making provisions of the CCA retroactive, securing citizenship for thousands who did not receive citizenship through their fathers under the prior law, known as the Guyer Rule, because of their parents’ marital status. Many of these nearly-lifelong U.S. residents, now in their 40s and 50s, have multiple generations in their families who are U.S. citizens living in the United States, including parents, children, and grandchildren. Please keep families like Damion’s together and help end the Guyer Rule by asking your representative to pass the ECCA.