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Supreme Court to hear case about children of unwed citizens

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A case that may be of interest to Maryland residents will be taken up by the Supreme Court of the United States. The case involves the differential treatment of children whose parents are American citizens based on the gender of the parents.

Under existing federal law, a child who is born overseas to an unwed American citizen mother can seek citizenship after the mother has lived in the U.S. for one year or longer. For children of unwed fathers, however, the requirement is that the unwed American citizen father must have lived in the U.S. for five years or more, which is less than the previous 10-year requirement.

In the case that the Supreme Court will hear in its next cycle, a man who was convicted of multiple felony offenses and who has been living legally in the U.S. since 1975 is arguing that the differential treatment violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. He also is arguing that his father, who reportedly missed the five-year cutoff by 20 days, should have been counted as residing in the U.S. for all of the five-year period since he was working for a U.S. company in the Dominican Republic. The man was convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder in 1995, and the government has been trying to deport him since 2000. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned the law in 2015, and the U.S. Department of Justice appealed that decision to the nation's highest court.

People who believe they should hold derived citizenship may want to talk to immigration attorneys. Family-based immigration is complex, and the laws are constantly evolving, so an attorney will have likely stayed abreast of current developments.

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