Citizenship provides benefits, guarantees, and protections of great value and emotional significance. The vast importance of citizenship has been referred to as the very “right to have rights.” The law creates a complex framework for how one becomes a citizen, proves citizenship, and potentially loses citizenship. This Note focuses on three documents purporting to establish proof of citizenship: the passport, the certificate of citizenship, and the certificate of naturalization. These three documents are at the center of 22 U.S.C. § 2705, a foundational proof of citizenship statute.
Courts are split on whether § 2705 allows a person to conclusively prove citizenship with a passport. The Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits have interpreted § 2705 to designate a passport as conclusive proof of citizenship; the Third Circuit, however, held that § 2705 designates a passport as conclusive proof of citizenship only if the passport had been issued to a U.S. citizen. This Note argues that § 2705 unambiguously denotes a passport as conclusive proof of citizenship. Nevertheless, this Note also argues that this area is ripe for legislative change based on an ineffective revocation procedure, differing levels of scrutiny, and the potential for conflict created by the three documents.