Supreme Court Upends Immigration Law Due to Gender Discrimination

According to existing immigration law, a foreign-born child may become a US citizen via transfer of citizenship by his or her parents. A mother only had to live in the US for 1 year before being allowed to transferred citizenship to the child, but a father has to live in the US for five years. The Supreme Court ruled that this was gender discrimination that wasn’t permissible.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal immigration law that makes it easier for women to transmit their citizenship to their foreign-born children is unconstitutional, because it discriminates on the basis of sex.

Federal law provides that a foreign-born child may obtain U.S. citizenship through their parents. In cases where a child’s parents are unwed, the law allows mothers to pass citizenship to their children if they lived in the U.S. for one year prior to the child’s birth. Fathers, however, must live in the U.S. for five years before birth before transmitting citizenship.

In her opinion for the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained that such gender-based discrimination is not permissible. Ginsburg was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part with the ruling, joined by Justice Samuel Alito. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the case…

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The Justices’ rule now sends the law back to Congress to update and make the standards the same for moms and dads. They also ordered the enforcement of the law in the meantime be uniform for both sexes, but it didn’t specify whether it would be one or five years for either parent to transfer citizenship to their foreign-born children.

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