U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Enters 'Curious Corner of Immigration Law'


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of an immigration law that makes it more difficult for the children of immigrants to become U.S. citizens based on the citizenship of their fathers, rather than their mothers.

The case concerns “a curious corner of U.S. immigration law that applies only to children born outside the U.S. to one parent who is an American and one who is not,” the Associated Press reports. At issue is whether treating mothers and fathers differently when determining the derivative citizenship of their children unfairly violates equal protection guarantees, according to the New York Times.

The petitioner, Ruben Flores-Villar, was denied citizenship under a law that required citizen fathers to have lived in the United States at least 10 years, at least five of them after the age of 14. Flores-Villar’s father was only 16 when his son was born. (The law has since changed to reduce the residency requirement to five years, at least two of them after the age of 14.)

For mothers, the requirement is for a year of U.S. residency after the birth of a child.

Flores-Villar was born in Mexico, but raised by his father and grandmother in San Diego, the New York Times says. He was convicted of importing marijuana when he was 22 and was previously deported at least five times, AP says, quoting government briefs. He sought citizenship to avoid another deportation.

The case is Flores-Villar v. United States.

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