WASHINGTON (AP) — One of Ruben Flores-Villar's parents is an American. Unfortunately for him, it is his father and not his mother, a fact that has complicated Flores-Villar's attempts to acquire U.S. citizenship and avoid criminal charges for being in the United States illegally.
Now, the Supreme Court is entering 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 law makes it easier for children whose mother is a citizen to become citizens themselves. Even after reform legislation in 1986, children of American fathers face higher hurdles claiming citizenship for themselves.
The justices agreed Monday to hear Flores-Villar's appeal of his criminal conviction and consider whether a provision of immigration law unfairly discriminates on the basis of gender. The case will be argued in the fall.
Flores-Villar, 35, was born in Tijuana, Mexico, but grew up in the San Diego area, in the care of his father and grandmother.
When he sought U.S. citizenship in 2006 — to stave off criminal charges of being in the country illegally — U.S. immigration authorities turned him down. For people born before 1986, their U.S. citizen fathers had to have lived in the U.S. for 10 years, at least five of them after the age of 14. Flores-Villar's father could not meet the second part of that requirement because he was only 16 when his son was born.
American mothers need only have lived in the U.S. continuously for a year before the birth of a child.
Changes to immigration law made in 1986 reduced the total residency time for fathers to five years, only two of which had to be after the age of 14.
By contrast, a child born in the United States, regardless of the parents' nationality, is a U.S. citizen, as is a child born abroad to two American citizens.
Lower federal courts upheld Flores-Villar's conviction and rejected his discrimination claims. Flores-Villar has previously been deported at least five times since he was convicted of importing marijuana when he was 22, the government said in court papers.
The Obama administration argued that the less stringent residency requirement in the 1986 law was one of several reasons for the court to stay out of the case.
The new requirement "substantially eliminates the risk" that young fathers like Flores-Villar's will be unable to confer citizenship on their children, the government said.
The court ruled on a related issue in 2001, holding that it was all right to require American fathers, but not mothers, of children born out of wedlock and abroad to get a court order of establishing paternity or swear to it under oath.
The case is Flores-Villar, 09-5801.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
Chula Vista Police on Wednesday cracked down on distracted drivers and pedestrians after a sharp increase in pedestrian fatalities in the South Bay city in recent months.
Creating an inventory of soon-to-expire affordable housing projects and ordinances to protect residents were among the suggestions generated at workshops Wednesday hosted by the City Council's Smart Growth and Land Use Committee.
Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday he reached an agreement with the federal government that California's National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers.
A woman was arrested Wednesday evening after a brief car chase that turned into a standoff in Valencia Park.
Caught in the chaos of the flooding and mudslides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, an Encinitas family shared their story with News 8 about how a famous surfer, Laird Hamilton, came to their rescue.
A former Coronado dentist who used a fake name to lure patients to Mexico, where he performed dental implant surgery on them, pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony and misdemeanor counts, including unlicensed dentistry with risk of bodily harm and practicing dentistry under a false name.
Earth Day is just around the corner and Caltrans wants San Diegans to be mindful of trash on our freeways.
A gun store owner in El Cajon, who is also a local school board president, has posted a video that some students and parents disagree with.
Imagine turning a $10,000 investment into $15 million dollars in sales. In Wednesday's Zevely Zone, Jeff is in Kearny Mesa with a story of inspiration.
The San Ysidro School District got its ninth superintendent in five years when the school board voted unanimously Thursday, April 12 to hire a Lemon Grove educator to head the district.