When it comes to citizenship, are mothers more important than fathers? That appears to be the case when it comes to Mexican born Ruben Flores-Villar. His mother was Mexican and his father was American. Ruben is being deported because of that issue.
Ruben Flores-Villar, 36, was born in Mexico in 1974. His Mexican mother was not married to his 16-year-old American father. When Ruben was just two months old his father and grandfather brought him across the border. Young Ruben grew up in San Diego County but never applied to become a US citizen.
In 1997 Flores-Villar was convicted of smuggling marijuana and served two years in prison. When he walked out of prison he was deported to Mexico, a country he had only lived in for two months. Since that time the man has returned and been deported six times.
His lawyers contend that Ruben is an American. Under the law however American fathers don't have the same rights as mothers. The CS Monitor reports that the unwed father of a child born outside the US to a non-citizen mother must have been present in the US for five years after age 14 to transmit citizenship to the newborn child. Since Ruben's dad was only 16 at the time of his birth that requirement can not be satisfied.
Had Ruben's mother been American he would have been safe. The law states that if the child's mother is a U.S. citizen, the child will automatically be a U.S. citizen at birth, so long as the mother previously had lived in the United States for one year, at any age. That double-standard is what the lawyers were questioning.
In 1940 an immigration law was passed that treats parents differently when it comes to citizenship for the United States. That law was challenged by Ruben Flores-Villar as a bid to stay in the United States as a citizen. His lawyers told the US Supreme Court that under the law it's easier for a mother's child to become a U.S. citizen by birth than it is for a child of an American father whose mother is a native of another country.
On Monday the US Supreme Court announced that it was deadlocked with a 4 to 4 vote in the case. The newest justice, Elena Kagan recused herself in the case. When a tie vote takes place in Supreme Court the lower court's decision is automatically upheld. Because the court could not render a decision Flores-Villar is deported letting a previous conviction on immigration charges stand.