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Supreme Court ruling brings equality to nationality law

Florida residents who are seeking to become United States citizens by virtue of being the children of naturalized parents may be interested in a recent ruling. The Supreme Court has ruled that a section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act discriminates on the basis of gender between mothers and fathers.

Prior to the court's decision in June 2017, immigration law determined that individuals born abroad to American mothers had a claim to citizenship as long as the mother had lived in the U.S. at least one year. However, this was not the case for American fathers. For example, a woman born in Kentucky may have moved to Mexico as a toddler, but she could still petition the highest immigration benefit of citizenship for her daughter born in Mexico. In the case of an American man, the law required 10 years of previous residency in the U.S., and five of those years after the age of 14.

Immigration attorneys who followed this case were counting on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to strike down this lopsided section of the law. Justice Ginsburg was firm as she wrote that the enactment of the law took place in an era when mothers were considered to be entirely responsible for the births of children abroad.

The case in question, Sessions v. Morales-Santana, had been previously heard before the Administrative Appeals Office before landing in the docket of the Supreme Court. The Attorney General's argument in this case failed to convince the Justices that there was no gender discrimination in the law as it is written. Individuals who are seeking to become nationalized citizens of the U.S. may want to reach out to a lawyer to see how this ruling could affect their statuses.

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