This is a very interesting case regarding immigration and obtaining citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent. Basically, this case used Article 314 of the Mexican Constitution when determining whether to deport individuals who claim American citizenship.
In Mexico, Saldana was born to an American male and a Mexican female. His birth certificate listed both parents. DHS deported him and denied his citizenship application on the basis that he was born out-of-wedlock.
According to DHS, Article 314 provided that children born out of wedlock can only be legitimized if the couple marries subsequently. At oral argument, however, the government admitted that Article 314 did never existed. DHS then cited Article 130 alleging it required marriage for legitimacy of children.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held in their opinion disagreed. Article 130 merely cited that marriage was a civil contract, rather than a religious one. In addition, the court noted that this article said nothing about the legitimization of children. The court explained,
In sum, under the laws of Tamaulipas, Mexico, where Saldana was born and resided as a child, he was acknowledged by his father when his father placed his name on the birth certificate before the Civil Registry. As an acknowledged child, Saldana had the same filial rights vis-a-vis his father as a “legitimated” child.
The Supreme Court decided Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, where the Supreme Court ruled that federal law preempted Arizona’s law. In other words, it held that Arizona’s requirement of proof of citizenship was in conflict with the National Voter Registration Act. Thereby, that requirement was rejected.
Arizona’s law required registered voters to show proof of citizenship. Under Arizona’s law, a person must be a citizen to be eligible to vote. This case concerned only how Arizona was trying to enforce that qualification. In 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, which provided that voters must “present proof of citizenship when they register to vote and to present identification when they vote on election day.” If an individual does not provide “satisfactory” proof of citizenship, then the application must be rejected.
The issue here is how this citizenship-proof law and the National Voting Registration Act work together. The Voter Registration Act required that states must “accept and use” the Federal Form. The Voter Registration Act provided that a state shall “ensure that any eligible applicant is registered to vote in an election… if the valid voter registration form of the applicant is post-marked.” (italics in original).
Although the Voter Registration Act provides that states can create their own state-specific voter-registration forms, the Voting Registration Act also places a backstop. The Supreme Court explained that,
No matter what procedural hurdles a State’s own form imposes, the Federal Form guarantees that a simple means of registering to vote in federal elections will be available.
Based on this language, the Supreme Court rejected Arizona’s arguments. If Arizona, or any other state, could demand Federal Form applicants additional pieces of information, “the Federal Form ceases to perform any meaningful function, and would be a feeble means of ‘increas[ing] the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for Federal Office.” (quotations and marks in original).