Center for Constitutional Rights Weighs in on Right of Young U.S. Mother Detained in Syria to Return Home

February 22, 2019, New York – In reaction to the Trump administration’s determination that Hoda Muthana, a 24-year-old U.S.-born woman of Yemeni origin, who is currently detained in Syria with her 18-month-old son, is not a U.S. citizen and will not be readmitted to the U.S. despite her pleas, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement: 

Trump is taking his lawlessness and anti-Muslim and -immigrant racism to yet another level, this time asserting the power to determine by executive fiat whether an individual is or is not a U.S. citizen and has the fundamental rights that citizenship affords – in this case, to return home from the horror of Syria, as Hoda Muthana is pleading to do. Ms. Muthana is entitled to a meaningful opportunity to challenge the administration’s purported determination that she is not a U.S. citizen, and if she is a citizen, she has the right to return to the U.S. The administration’s position to the contrary is a breathtaking claim of executive power, going even beyond Muslim bans and border walls, now to excluding U.S. citizens by stripping them of their citizenship without process. It should alarm us all, if any were not already on edge about the clear direction this president is taking us. 

This is also a thinly-veiled way for the U.S. to wash its hands of the mess it has helped create in Syria, ridding itself of apparent responsibility for detainees that it may have questionable basis to federally prosecute – we would be in new legal territory if Ms. Muthana’s tweets and marriage alone were to constitute material support to ISIS – and that it would face fire for if they were sent to the irredeemable prison at Guantánamo. This approach would ostensibly leave Ms. Muthana and her baby indefinitely detained in foreign custody in a Syrian camp with an estimated 1,500 other women and children, effectively Gitmo-izing their status through other means – statelessness. 

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

February 22, 2019