Ahmed Ali Muthana argues in the suit filed in federal court in Washington that his 24-year-old daughter, Hoda Muthana, is an American citizen by birth and should be allowed to come back to the U.S. with her toddler son.
Hoda Muthana is now in a Syrian refugee camp with the 18-month-old boy after fleeing the remnants of the Islamic State.
Her lawyers said in a statement that she expects to be charged with providing material support to terrorism if she is allowed to return to the U.S.
"Ms. Muthana has publicly acknowledged her actions and accepted full responsibility for those actions," the lawyers said. "In Ms. Muthana's words, she recognizes that she has 'ruined' her own life, but she does not want to ruin the life of her young child."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the young woman is not a citizen and will not be admitted to the country.
The family and their lawyers say they were told that the U.S. determined she did not qualify for citizenship because her father was a Yemeni diplomat at the time of her birth.
But the family argues that is incorrect. They say that her father ceased to be a diplomat before she was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, and that she had a legitimate passport when she left the U.S. to join the Islamic State in Syria in 2014.
The Obama administration initially determined she was not a citizen and notified her family that it was revoking her passport in January 2016.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person born in the U.S. to an accredited foreign diplomatic officer is not subject to U.S. law and is not automatically considered a U.S. citizen at birth.
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