10th District hopeful not eligible to serve, records show

A suburban Democratic candidate for Congress is ineligible to hold that office because he hasn't been a U.S. citizen long enough, records show.

Aloys Rutagwibira, 53, of Hainesville is a native of Rwanda who became a naturalized American citizen July 6, 2006, according to voter registration records acquired by the Daily Herald.

Congressional service requires seven years of citizenship, under the Constitution. Rutagwibira won't be eligible until July 2013.

Rutagwibira is one of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the 10th District seat now held by Republican Bob Dold.

Rutagwibira has not returned multiple telephone calls requesting interviews. He also failed to attend a scheduled candidate interview session Tuesday at the Daily Herald office in Libertyville.

When asked via email about his citizenship, Rutagwibira refused to confirm the date he took the citizenship oath.

He also expressed offense that the Daily Herald discovered the discrepancy during a search of public records rather than by first asking him.

“You are on your own buddy, same as we all are,” Rutagwibira said in one email.

Hundreds of the signatures on Rutagwibira's candidate petition have been legally challenged. His citizenship was not part of the objection, a lawyer involved with the case said.

Following a formal inquiry, a hearing officer for the state board of elections has recommended Rutagwibira be removed from the ballot because of an insufficient number of signatures, elections board documents indicate. A decision from the board is pending.

The 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties. The other four Democratic hopefuls are Vivek Bavda of Mundelein, Brad Schneider of Deerfield, Ilya Sheyman of Waukegan and John Tree of Long Grove.

In an email, Rutagwibira said he legally entered the United States in January 1989. When asked to confirm the date of his naturalization, he suggested the Daily Herald request records from the federal government.

According to his campaign website, Rutagwibira graduated from Indiana University-South Bend in 1994 and earned a master's degree from Loyola University Chicago in 2001. He has since worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a mathematical statistician.

Voter registration records on file with the Lake County clerk's office in Waukegan indicate Rutagwibira became an American citizen in 2006 at the U.S. District courthouse in Chicago.

The county document, dated Jan. 8, 2008, was signed by Rutagwibira and included an oath of accuracy.

Federal naturalization records are kept by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The records are available to the public only with the written approval of the person to whom the record pertains.

Whereas American presidents must be natural-born American citizens, immigrants are allowed to serve in Congress.

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution says representatives must be at least 25 years old, citizens for at least seven years and residents of the states they seek to represent.

U.S. senators must be at least 30 years old, U.S. citizens for at least nine years and residents of the states they seek to represent.

Serve: Representatives, senators can be immigrants; presidents must be natural-born citizens

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