Citizenship and deportation

Citizenship is a "personal and more or less permanent membership in a political community. It denotes possession within that particular political community of full civil and political rights subject to special disqualifications such as minority."[1] An "alien," on the other hand, is "one owing allegiance to another country; a foreign-born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country."[2] While "deportation" is "the removal from a country of an alien whose presence in the country is unlawful or is held to be prejudicial to the public welfare."[3] In theory, deportation proceedings should only pertain to an alien; it should never apply to a citizen of the country from which a person is being deported. So after a person is adjudged as an alien, the BI can deport the alien to his or her country of origin. However, there might be some instances where a citizen is erroneously deported to another country.

What then will happen if one is deported and later on found out to be a citizen? The deportee is uprooted from the country he was adjudged as an alien and shipped to a country where he owes no allegiance to nor have a family in. Hence, courts should always be extremely vigilant in cases of deportation lest a deportee be an actual citizen deprived of his Constitutional rights. In fact, Chief Justice Warren, in his dissent in Perez v. Brownell,[4] said, "Citizenship is man's basic right for it is nothing less than the right to have rights. Remove this priceless possession and there remains a stateless person, disgraced and degraded in the eyes of his countrymen." Accordingly, it would be best for Us to tread carefully on this matter so that the petitioner, an alleged alien, is accorded an opportunity to prove his citizenship prior his expulsion from our country. Therefore, when there is substantial evidence which show that the deportee is a citizen, the citizenship of said deportee should be determined first prior to an actual deportation.[5]

[1] Bernas, Joaquin G., S.J., THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES: A COMMENTARY 609.

[2] WEBSTER'S THIRD NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY 52 (1993)

[3] Id.

[4] 356 U.S. 44, 64 (1958).

[5] Justice Velasco, Jr.'s dissenting opinion in G.R. No. 191810, June 22, 2015.

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