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WHAT WAS HER IMMIGRATION STATUS?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 24, 2020) — On Wednesday, the Twitter account @KancelKamala (also @KamalaKancel) posted additional documents associated with Shyamala Gopalan Harris, the late mother of Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris, following Tuesday’s release of a “Deportation Docket” document indicating Gopalan Harris submitted an application under “Sec. 245” of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1968.
At the time, the “Immigration and Naturalization Service” was a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, as indicated on the posted form titled “DEPORTATION DOCKET CONTROL ACTION SLIP OR NOTICE” dated February 13, 1968.
The form was issued approximately 13 months after Gopalan Harris wrote a letter to the Chicago office of the INS requesting “an immigrant visa” on stationery belonging to the University of Illinois Department of Physiology and Biophysics, where she was employed as a “Research Physiologist,” according to the letter.
Gopalan Harris reportedly met her future husband, Donald Harris, in 1962 at the University of California, Berkeley, both as graduate students from foreign lands and marrying the following year, The New York Times reported. “Until then Ms. Gopalan had expected to return to India, she reflected years later. ‘I never came to stay,’ she told a reporter for SF Weekly. It’s the old story: I fell in love with a guy, we got married, pretty soon kids came.’”
Section 245 of the referenced law is now detailed at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a subsidiary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency states that “Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows certain aliens who are physically present in the United States to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Most adjustment applicants file their adjustment of status applications based on INA 245(a).”
Further, USCIS explains:
In 1952, Congress made the pre-examination process unnecessary by creating INA 245, which allowed eligible aliens to obtain LPR status through adjustment of status without leaving the United States.  Congress indicated that adjustment should be used for purposes of family unity or otherwise be in the public interest. 
Over time, Congress revised and consolidated the eligibility requirements for adjustment of status into the current INA 245(a). The bars, restrictions, and special considerations to adjustment are found in INA 245(c) through INA 245(k). Applicable inadmissibility grounds, including public safety and security concerns are found in INA 212.
In a follow-on tweet on Tuesday, the @KamalaKancel account posed the question, “Was Senator Harris not discussing public policy, but instead settling a personal score, in harsh questioning of Ronald Vitiello (comparing a perception of ICE to the KKK) in November 2018? Was this payback for her mother’s deportation proceedings in 1968?” with a link to a YouTube video depicting Kamala Harris aggressively questioning Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official Ronald Vittiello in 2018 as to that agency’s “parallel” to the Ku Klux Klan, a militant group opposed to black voting rights founded by Southern Democrats in the wake of the American Civil War.
“Are you aware that there’s a perception that ICE is administering its power in a way that is causing fear and intimidation, particularly among immigrants, and specifically, among immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America?” Harris demanded of Vittiello. After he responded that he “does not see a parallel” and that agents perform their responsibilities “with lots of compassion,” Harris pressed, “Sir, how can you be the head of an agency and be unaware of how your agency is perceived by certain communities?”
“There is a lot of perceptions in the media and in the public that are incorrect about the agency…” [sic] Vittiello responded, with Harris interrupting, “But the perception exists; would you agree? Whether or not it’s correct; and wouldn’t you agree, then, that if that perception exists, there might need to be some work done to correct the perception?”
According to a February 2017 Facebook post, newly-serving U.S. Senator Kamala Harris saw her mother’s arrival in the United States and subsequent marriage as having “made us Americans,” referring to Maya and herself.
Since Democratic presidential contender Joseph Biden announced his choice of Harris as his running mate on August 11, some have questioned whether or not she is eligible to serve as vice president or president given that the 12th Amendment and Article II of the U.S. Constitution, respectively, require each office-holder to be a “natural born Citizen.”
As the Framers did not define “natural born Citizen” in Article II, Section 1, clause 5 for the president and commander-in-chief, many scholars look to a number of U.S. Supreme Court cases which tangentially mentioned it, including Minor v. Happersett, a women’s suffrage case brought by Missouri resident Virginia Minor in 1873 challenging women’s then-inability to vote across the nation.
Virginia’s husband, Francis Minor, a lawyer, argued the case to the Missouri Supreme Court, and later, to the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal, invoking the first paragraph of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868. The section reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
In the court’s opinion on the case, issued in October 1874, Chief Justice Morrison Waite wrote:
…It is contended that the provisions of the constitution and laws of the State of Missouri which confine the right of suffrage and registration therefor to men, are in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and therefore void. The argument is, that as a woman, born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, is a citizen of the United States and of the State in which she resides, she has the right of suffrage as one of the privileges and immunities of her citizenship, which the State cannot by its laws or constitution abridge.
There is no doubt that women may be citizens. They are persons, and by the fourteenth amendment ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ are expressly declared to be ‘citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.’ But, in our opinion, it did not need this amendment to give them that position. Before its adoption the Constitution of the United States did not in terms prescribe who should be citizens of the United States or of the several States, yet there were necessarily such citizens without such provision. There cannot be a nation without a people. The very idea of a political community, such as a nation is, implies an association of persons for the promotion of their general welfare. Each one of the persons associated becomes a member of the nation formed by the association. He owes it allegiance and is entitled to its protection. Allegiance and protection are, in this connection, reciprocal obligations. The one is a compensation for the other; allegiance for protection and protection for allegiance.
…Whoever, then, was one of the people of either of these States when the Constitution of the United States was adopted, became ipso facto a citizen—a member of the nation created by its adoption. He was one of the persons associating together to form the nation, and was, consequently, one of its original citizens. As to this there has never been a doubt. Disputes have arisen as to whether or not certain persons or certain classes of persons were part of the people at the time, but never as to their citizenship if they were.
Additions might always be made to the citizenship of the United States in two ways: first, by birth, and second, by naturalization. This is apparent from the Constitution itself, for it provides6 that ‘no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President,’7 and that Congress shall have power ‘to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.’ Thus new citizens may be born or they may be created by naturalization.
The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts. It is sufficient for everything we have now to consider that all children born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction are themselves citizens. The words ‘all children’ are certainly as comprehensive, when used in this connection, as ‘all persons,’ and if females are included in the last they must be in the first. That they are included in the last is not denied. In fact the whole argument of the plaintiffs proceeds upon that idea. [Emphasis added by The Post & Email]
The unanimous decision concluded:
We have given this case the careful consideration its importance demands. If the law is wrong, it ought to be changed; but the power for that is not with us. The arguments addressed to us bearing upon such a view of the subject may perhaps be sufficient to induce those having the power, to make the alteration, but they ought not to be permitted to influence our judgment in determining the present rights of the parties now litigating before us. No argument as to woman’s need of suffrage can be considered. We can only act upon her rights as they exist. It is not for us to look at the hardship of withholding. Our duty is at an end if we find it is within the power of a State to withhold.
Being unanimously of the opinion that the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one, and that the constitutions and laws of the several States which commit that important trust to men alone are not necessarily void, we
AFFIRM THE JUDGMENT.
According to documents @kancelkamala released Wednesday, Gopalan Harris was asked to report for two medical examinations in Chicago, along with her husband and certain documents, on February 20, 1968 and February 28, 1968.
Now-famously, on August 12, Newsweek published an opinion column by Chapman University Professor of Law John Eastman positing that Kamala Harris might not have been “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” upon her birth in Oakland, CA since neither of her parents was a U.S. citizen at the time.
“Were Harris’ parents lawful permanent residents at the time of her birth?” Eastman wrote. “If so, then under the actual holding of Wong Kim Ark, she should be deemed a citizen at birth—that is, a natural-born citizen—and hence eligible. Or were they instead, as seems to be the case, merely temporary visitors, perhaps on student visas issued pursuant to Section 101(15)(F) of Title I of the 1952 Immigration Act? If the latter were indeed the case, then derivatively from her parents, Harris was not subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States at birth, but instead owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers—Jamaica, in the case of her father, and India, in the case of her mother—and was therefore not entitled to birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment as originally understood.”
Going a step farther, Eastman raised the question of Harris’s eligibility for the seat she currently holds as U.S. Senator from California:
Interestingly, this recitation of the original meaning of the 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause might also call into question Harris’ eligibility for her current position as a United States senator. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution specifies that to be eligible for the office of senator, one must have been “nine Years a Citizen of the United States.” If Harris was not a citizen at birth, we would need to know when (if ever) she became a citizen. Her father’s biographical page at Stanford University identifies his citizenship status as follows: “Jamaica (by birth); U.S. (by naturalization).” But there is some dispute over whether he was in fact ever naturalized, and it is also unclear whether Harris’ mother ever became a naturalized citizen. If neither was ever naturalized, or at least not naturalized before Harris’ 16th birthday (which would have allowed her to obtain citizenship derived from their naturalization under the immigration law, at the time), then she would have had to become naturalized herself in order to be a citizen. That does not appear to have ever happened, yet without it, she could not have been “nine Years a Citizen of the United States” before her election to the U.S. Senate.
While some posit that Harris does not qualify as a “natural born Citizen” given her parents’ respective foreign citizenship at the time of her birth, many media outlets say she is eligible for either vice president or president because of her U.S. birth. Some have gone farther by chastising those allegedly participating in a “racist birther conspiracy” in raising the question.
On September 20, @KancelKamala alleged Gopalan Harris was engaged in “immigration fraud,” a claim repeated Wednesday with the promise that “more” on the subject “will appear here soon.”
According to the additional documents released Wednesday, Gopalan Harris was fingerprinted by the University of Illinois Police Department on August 28, 1967, prior to the scheduled medical examinations but after she requested the immigrant visa. “INS demanded fingerprints for submission to FBI,” the account-holder tweeted along with the image, followed by a tweet with FBI-generated instructions on submitting fingerprints.
According to her Wikipedia biography, Gopalan Harris “worked as a breast cancer researcher at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Wisconsin” as well as at the “Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University Faculty of Medicine.” Through documents released on Sunday, @KancelKamala reports Gopalan Harris’s arrival in Montreal with her two daughters as February 13, 1976.
Correction, September 27, 2020, 8:42 p.m. EDT: This story originally erroneously reported Francis Minor as “a non-lawyer” when he was, in fact, an attorney.