SPLC: A Man is Facing a Deportation Because of an Outdated and Racially Discriminatory Law

On January 14th, 2021, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued an emergency press release highlighting the story of a North Carolina man who is scheduled for deportation because of an obscure, racially discriminatory quirk of U.S. immigration law. Kelvin Silva, a 44-year-old man from Charlotte, is currently in ICE custody and faces imminent deportation to the Dominican Republic. It is a country he does not know. Mr. Silva was brought to the United States as a child more than 30 years ago. Here, our Los Angeles deportation defense lawyer highlights three things to know about this unfortunate case.

The Guyer Rule is an Obscure, Outdated, and Discriminatory Provision

Mr. Silva’s deportation case involves a little-known quirk of immigration law known as the ‘Guyer Rule’. Originally codified into federal law in the 1940s, the so-called Guyer Rule prevented fathers from passing U.S. citizenship onto their children if that child was born out of wedlock. In place for many years, the Guyer Rule has a disproportionate, discriminatory effect on non-white parents and children. An immigration judge ruled that because Mr. Silva’s parents never married, he was ineligible to obtain American citizenship through his father.

Child Citizenship Act of 2001 (CCA) Did Not Apply Retroactively

One of the reasons why few people have heard of the Guyer Rule is that it is, thankfully, no longer in place—at least for most people. The Child Citizenship Act of 2001 (CCA) changed U.S. law to allow children to obtain citizenship through their American citizen parents, regardless of the parents’ marital status. Unfortunately, the CCA was not given retroactively.

Mr. Silva has deep roots in the United States. He arrived in the country way back in 1988. Under similar circumstances today, the CCA would have permitted Mr. Silva to obtain citizenship through his father. However, the lack of retroactive effect means that Mr. Silva, and others in a similar position, are not protected by the CCA.

SPLC and Immigration Attorneys are Racing to Halt the Deportation

With the risk of deportation imminent, the SPLC and many immigration lawyers are racing to try to stop the proceedings. As a representative for the SPLC explains in its press release, this case demonstrates some of the “worst of U.S. immigration policy” which is deeply intertwined with “white supremacy and nativist ideas.” To make matters even more heartbreaking, Mr. Silva has chronic asthma and is at heightened risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Nonetheless, ICE appears ready to carry out the deportation.

Call Our Los Angeles Immigration Law Attorney Right Away

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our California immigration lawyer is a passionate, reliable advocate for immigrants and their families. We handle the full spectrum of immigration cases, including deportation and removal proceedings. Call us now for a confidential initial assessment of your case. Our deportation law team provides services throughout Southern California, including in Torrance, Downey, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Long Beach, and Compton.

Josh Goldstein
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