Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes you find a news story that just leaves you speechless.  Like this one.  How can a young man who was raised in San Diego by his U.S. citizen father possibly be in this country illegally?  Sadly, Ruben Flores-Villar learned the hard way that a child born to a 16 year-old father prior to 1986 is not automatically a U.S. citizen.  Had his mother been a 16 year-old U.S. citizen, he would have been a citizen.  But his dad had to get a court order establishing paternity.  Now he's litigating that disparity, presumably arguing an equal protection violation.  

I'd guess his father didn't know that his own son wasn't a citizen, either, or he would have done something about it.  What 16 year-old faced with trying to raise an infant son as a single parent would have thought he had to do something to establish his own son's citizenship?  At 22, Ruben was convicted of a drug offense.  Because he wasn't a U.S. citizen, he was deported, apparently to a country he hadn't lived in since he was a baby.  But he came back (perhaps because it's where he's always lived with his family of U.S. citizens) and now he's facing charges of being in the country illegally.

The idea that this guy is a criminal who should be kicked out of the country he was raised in is deeply offensive to me.  He didn't do anything wrong (other than the marijuana offense).  (Fine, he was deported and wasn't supposed to come back, but good lord, this country is his frickin' home.)  His dad didn't jump through the right hoop, a hoop he wouldn't have had to jump through had he been a woman or 3 years older.  This guy should never have been deported in the first place and I refuse to fault him for coming back to the country he always believed was his.

Something's pretty amiss if this is the guy our immigration authorities are expending resources on.


Bob S. said...


Do you think that it is likely the young man knew his father was an illegal immigrant?

There are dozens of forms a person has to fill out that asks about parents citizenship status.

Isn't it a crime to fail to report a violation of the law?

Then he broke the law about smoking marijuana. Whether or not I think it should be illegal (I don't), the fact is that NO ONE who has been in America for any length of time can think that it is legal to smoke grass.

Isn't it a crime to smoke marijuana?

He was deported, making his citizenship status known.

He entered the country illegally, isn't that against the law?

He could have applied for legal immigration, he chose not to.

Where do we draw the line?

Some one violated not one law but at least two --- and we should feel sympathy for him?

Sorry. Should he want to enter the country legally, I'll support him but not now.

Do I think that INS should be spending time finding guys like this, no. But when they break the law, then the consequences should be applied.

When do we start calling people who break the law knowingly what they are - criminals?

S said...

His father wasn't an illegal immigrant. His father was a U.S. citizen. There is no dispute about that fact. His father simply, apparently, did not know that his child was not automatically a citizen. I would guess most people don't know the ins and outs of automatic citizenship by birth. I was always taught if your parent is a citizen, you're a citizen.

It's simply wrong to take someone who was raised in this country by a citizen parent and had no idea that he wasn't a citizen and kick him out. And, no, once you're deported, you can't apply for legal status.

S said...

Oh, and here's where I draw my line: U.S. citizens are entitled to raise their children here in the U.S. and not ever have those children subject to deportation. The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that parenting is a fundamental right.

Bob S. said...

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.

5 times -- when do we call someone a criminal?

His father had to sue -- wasn't that a clue that more information should have been sought?

I agree that the kid has a bad break but we do we stop saying people should follow the law?

I'm a gun owner -- would you cut me a break because I didn't know all the gun laws if I violated the law?

Maybe the first time, but 5 times?

Isn't there an appeal process that could have been done?

S said...

I call him a criminal for breaking the drug laws, but not ever for being in or returning to the country to which he belongs. He shouldn't bear such a heavy burden as permanent removal from his HOME because his 16 year-old father didn't know what he needed to do. How you can't see the difference between this situation where the kid is not at fault for his citizenship status and that of you, a grown adult, owning guns is beyond me.

Law and order types want to see everything as so very black and white and I'm sick of it.

Bob S. said...


My father owned several firearms and left them to me.

Did he legally have them? In many states it is required that firearms be registered.

If I never asked my father if he registered them, I could be breaking the law.

Chicago is a great example of this. Firearms must be registered YEARLY in that city. If a father didn't do that and passed those firearms down, then the son/daughter is violating the law.
I don't call the young man a criminal for being in the country illegally - the first time.

2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th?

Yep, he is a criminal. Regardless of WHY was a criminal the first time, he is breaking the law and knows it after that.

I can see the difference but was pointing out the mindset difference.

Isn't the phrase "Ignorance of the law is no excuse"?

What I don't understand is the continual excusing of someone's continual breaking of the law.

The mother was an illegal alien. Shouldn't that tip off someone there might be a problem.

The father had to sue to establish paternity. Shouldn't that tip off someone there might be a problem?

We have a system in place to resolve issues, the young man decided --repeatedly -- not to avail himself of the legal system.

He choose to break the law -- should the consequences of those actions be excused?

BellsforStacy said...

First, this story seems to me to be more about paternity rights. It sounds like the Dad's name isn't on any birth certificate information, and he didn't take steps after the kid was born to fix that. Granted, he had no reason to until the little hellion got in trouble, which in this case was 22 years later.

Secondly, the child was born in Mexico and brought into this country illegally after birth. We are not told at what age. Could be 3 months, could be three years, could be 14 (a quick google search does not tell me how old he was when he came to this country). His illegal alien mother did not give birth to him here, so he is not a citizen. His father, it would be assumed, was not present at his birth and is not listed as a father on the birth certificate.

And while I can appreciate that his father was 16 at the time of birth, he's not 16 now. Has not been 16 since this fight has been going on. Let's say when he was 30, and the kid was 14, why didn't he petition for legal rights / citizenship then?

And, it's not just drug use, it's drug importation. He's a drug mule, bringing drugs from Mexico into the United States. This is EXACTLY the sort of person I do not want as a citizen. Or if he is a citizen, he's the sort of person I want in jail.

I'm looking for more detail, but there are a lot of other particulars I would like to know regarding this. It's not as if the kid is 16 now and being deported. He's 35. He's broken the law, 5 times. They want to deport him because they don't want him in California's over crowded prisons.

S said...

We shouldn't assume this child was brought into the country illegally. But my point was more that it should never be illegal for a US Citizen to bring his/her child into the country. And the disparity is clear: had this teenage parent been a girl, there wouldn't be any problem.

I am complaining about the notion that someone who was raised in this country by his father, a U.S. citizen, can be deemed "illegal".

And there's no reason to call his mother an illegal alien. There's nothing to indicate she was ever in this country legally or otherwise. If she ever did come here, there's certainly no reason to assume it was illegally.

BellsforStacy said...

Dad's get screwed. That's the plain and simple truth. They have to jump through a 100 more hoops to prove that a child is theirs. Especially if they weren't present at birth. They don't have to prove anything to sign a birth certificate, but if it's after the fact ...

But you're assuming a bunch of facts in your post. Was the child brought here as an infant? I can't find that. Or did he start coming over as a teenager and that's when he started living with Dad? Was he really "living" with Dad? Did he go to school here? What does "raised" mean?

Irregardless, this doesn't change the fact that immigration laws require a mom to have lived here only a year and a dad to have lived here 10 years, after he's 14, in order to pass on citizenship to a child. Why do eggs get special treatment over sperm? I don't know. But many laws and precedents in our legal system value the mother over the father. This is just one.

Simplistically speaking, this is also another example of why having children out of wedlock is not such a good idea. At 16 this gentleman may not have been given a choice, but like I said, it's a simplistic judgement. Also another reason for teens not to have sex. But I digress.

In this instance though ... I hope the guy is deported. Drug traffickers need not apply.

BellsforStacy said...

On the mom illegal alien thing ... I'm assuming, that if you're assuming he was brought over as an infant, his mother was with him. Which would mean that she brought him here.

Now to your point, she may not have done that. The Dad could have gone to collect him, or the child could have been old enough to come on his own steam.

duke said...

I have spent my career primarily in the field of Immigration Law and the issues concerning transmission of citizenship are some of the most complex that we deal with.
Reviewing the briefs in this case lead me to believe that the young man's father didn't know that he was a citizen much less that his son was. The father's citizenship was based on the fact that his mother was a USC. This means he wasn't born in the United States. The father only obtained his Certificate of Citizenship in 1999.
Ah, but I don't want to go into too much detail on the applicable law.
Your belief that the "kid" (he is now 35 years old) should be allowed to stay here because he lived in the US for so many years and he is the son of a US Citizen conflicts with what the law says happens to legal permanent residents ("green card" holders) convicted of any sale of a controlled substance offense and almost all possession offences. This individual doesn't seem to have ever obtain LPR status and most likely lived as an undocumented (the term illegal alien is offensive, isn't it) person in the US.
The INS can be, and often is, brutal is how it treats "criminal aliens" I'm just not sure that this is the person to be very upset about.

Language Lover said...

Do all you lawyers understand that illegal presence in this country is, but for a few specific cases, a violation of CIVIL law?

The degree to which people dehumanize undocumented immigrants is absolutely appalling to me. They're "criminals" (see above), so therefore they should be sent back to their countries of origin where they can't support their families (often because of U.S. foreign policy), and who cares if families are broken up or people end up starving? After all, they're criminals, right? Let them suffer, let their children suffer, they aren't worth crap and should have known better than to risk their lives and leave their families trying to find a place where hard work would actually let them make enough to live on.

Because, as we all know, the American Dream no longer exists for people who aren't white and skilled.

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