WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is barring a US-born former Daesh propagandist from returning home, making the highly unusual case that she is not a US citizen, reported GulfNews.
Trump’s refusal to admit 24-year-old Hoda Muthana comes just as he is pressing Europeans to repatriate their own Daesh fighters and will likely face legal challenges, with US citizenship extremely difficult to lose.
Trump said on Twitter he has “instructed” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the country” — a break with usual US protocol not to comment on individuals’ immigration issues.
In an interview with the Guardian published Sunday, Muthana said she regrets her decision to join Daesh and is seeking to return to the United States.
“I look back now and I think I was very arrogant. Now I’m worried about my son’s future,” she told the newspaper, describing herself as having been “brainwashed.”
Muthana’s lawyer, Hassan Shibly, told The Washington Post Wednesday night that his client is “genuinely remorseful” about her decision.
“I don’t know if there are many Americans right now who hate ISIS (Daesh) as much as Hoda does,” Shibly said. “Ultimately, I think she’s trying to face our legal system, and Trump is trying to give her a free pass by saying she’s not in our jurisdiction.”
Trump’s tweet about the case comes during the same week that another woman who joined Daesh, Shamima Begum, had her British citizenship revoked.
In Muthana’s case, both sides are at odds over whether the woman, who was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, was ever a U.S. citizen in the first place.
“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a US citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Pompeo said in a terse statement.
“She does not have any legal basis, no valid US passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States,” he added.
The US generally grants citizenship to everyone born on its soil and the Alabama-raised Muthana is believed to have travelled to Syria on a US passport.
But a US official said a later investigation showed that she had not been entitled to her passport, adding: “Ms. Muthana’s citizenship has not been revoked because she was never a citizen.”
Officials declined further comment but in a loophole that could boost the government case, Muthana’s father had been a diplomat from Yemen — and children of diplomats are not automatically given citizenship.
Muthana’s lawyer, Hassan Shelby, showed a birth certificate that demonstrated she was born in New Jersey in 1994 and said her father had ceased being a diplomat “months and months” before her birth.
“She is a US citizen. She had a valid passport. She may have broken the law and, if she has, she’s willing to pay the price,” Shelby said at his office in Tampa.
He said Muthana wanted due process and was willing to go to prison if convicted.
“We cannot get to a point where we simply strip citizenship from those who break the law. That’s not what America is about. We have one of the greatest legal systems in the world, and we have to abide by it.”