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CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Appeals Project accepted Jose Tineo’s case and referred it to attorney Nick Curcio in 2013. After seven years the proceedings finally ended after the case reached the Third Circuit as Tineo v. Att’y Gen., 937 F.3d 200 (3d Cir. 2019).
Jose was born in the Dominican Republic to unmarried parents. Before Jose turned 18, his father immigrated to the United States and obtained citizenship. If his parents had been married, he would have automatically derived his father’s citizenship. However, under Dominican and New York law, Jose’s father could only legitimate his son — and subsequently transmit his U.S. citizenship — by marrying his son’s mother, who had passed away years before.
Jose came to the United States in 1985 to live with his father as a permanent resident. He built a life in the United States, becoming a father himself. After a run in with the law, he was placed in removal proceedings. He was detained for 19 months and had to represent himself until he was paired with Curcio.
In Jose’s case, the Third Circuit found, in a 2-1 decision, that under the unique circumstances of this case, Jose’s father was deprived of the equal protection of the laws. Jose is a United States citizen, the court declared, and had been since 1985.
For the better part of the last decade, Jose’s life has been filled with uncertainty and stress. Now, he has obtained a passport for the first time since the removal proceedings began, giving him the freedom to stay connected with his family.
CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Project provides the opportunity for attorneys and fully accredited representatives to fight for people like Jose who, otherwise, may have to represent themselves.