HOOVER, Ala. - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an Alabama woman who went to Syria and joined the Islamic State group cannot return to the United States because she is not a U.S. citizen.
Hoda Muthana, 24, is currently in a refugee camp in northern Syria with her 18-month-old son. In 2014, Muthana left her home in Hoover, Alabama, to move to Syria and join the Islamic State group. In media interviews this week, including with The Guardian and ABC News, Muthana said she regretted her actions and pleaded with U.S. officials to allow her to return home.
Pompeo responded to Muthana on Wednesday in a three-sentence statement: “Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States. We continue to strongly advise all U.S. citizens not to travel to Syria.”
Muthana, her family and her attorneys disagree with Pompeo about her citizenship status. Muthana said she applied for and received a U.S. passport before leaving for Turkey and eventually settling in Syria -- Only U.S. citizens can receive American passports, ABC News reported.
Muthana’s father is a former Yemeni diplomat. While Muthana was born in New Jersey, children born in the United States to active diplomats do not have birthright citizenship, since diplomats are under the jurisdiction of their home countries, according to The New York Times.
Charlie Swift, the director of the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, told The New York Times that because Muthana was born one month after her father was discharged as a diplomat, she should have birthright citizenship.
"The Trump administration continues its attempts to wrongfully strip citizens of their citizenship," Hassan Shibly, an attorney representing Muthana’s family, said in a statement. "Hoda Muthana had a valid US passport and is a citizen. She was born in Hackensack, NJ in October 1994, months after her father stopped being [a] diplomat."
Muthana said in media interviews she “deeply regrets” her decision to join the Islamic State group and understands she may face prison time in the United States if she returns home. She told ABC News that U.S. consular officials haven’t been in contact with her.
"I hope America doesn't think I'm a threat to them, and I hope they can accept me and [that] I'm just a normal human being who's been manipulated once and hopefully never again," she said.
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