Featured Issue: Denaturalization Efforts by USCIS
AILA Doc. No. 18072705 | Dated August 27, 2021
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According to the USCIS Policy Manual:
A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if:
A) A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if he or she procured naturalization illegally. Procuring naturalization illegally simply means that the person was not eligible for naturalization in the first place. Accordingly, any eligibility requirement for naturalization that was not met can form the basis for an action to revoke the naturalization of a person. This includes the requirements of residence, physical presence, lawful admission for permanent residence, good moral character, and attachment to the U.S. Constitution.
B) A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if there is deliberate deceit on the part of the person in misrepresenting or failing to disclose a material fact or facts on his or her naturalization application and subsequent examination.
In general, a person is subject to revocation of naturalization on this basis if:
- The naturalized U.S. citizen misrepresented or concealed some fact;
- The misrepresentation or concealment was willful;
- The misrepresented or concealed fact or facts were material; and
- The naturalized U.S. citizen procured citizenship as a result of the misrepresentation or concealment.
This ground of revocation includes omissions as well as affirmative misrepresentations. The misrepresentations can be oral testimony provided during the naturalization interview or can include information contained on the application submitted by the applicant. The courts determine whether the misrepresented or concealed fact or facts were material. The test for materiality is whether the misrepresentations or concealment had a tendency to affect the decision. It is not necessary that the information, if disclosed, would have precluded naturalization.
C) A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if the person becomes a member of, or affiliated with, the Communist party, other totalitarian party, or terrorist organization within five years of his or her naturalization. In general, a person who is involved with such organizations cannot establish the naturalization requirements of having an attachment to the Constitution and of being well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.
The fact that a person becomes involved with such an organization within five years after the date of naturalization is prima facie evidence that he or she concealed or willfully misrepresented material evidence that would have prevented the person’s naturalization.
D) Other than Honorable Discharge before Five Years of Honorable Service after Naturalization
A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if:
- The person became a U.S. citizen through naturalization on the basis of honorable service in the U.S. armed forces;
- The person subsequently separates from the U.S. armed forces under other than honorable conditions; and
- The other than honorable discharge occurs before the person has served honorably for a period or periods aggregating at least five years.
- For many years, the DOJ focused its efforts to strip immigrants of their citizenship on suspected war criminals who lied on their immigration paperwork, most notably former Nazis. And, USCIS and DOJ pursued cases as they arose, but not through a coordinated effort.
- In February 2020, DOJ announced the creation of a section dedicated to denaturalization cases. Noting that, “While the Office of Immigration Litigation already has achieved great success in the denaturalization cases it has brought, winning 95 percent of the time, the growing number of referrals anticipated from law enforcement agencies motivated the creation of a standalone section dedicated to this important work.”
- According to the New York Times, “denaturalizations have ramped up under the Trump administration: Of the 228 denaturalization cases that the department has filed since 2008, about 40 percent of them were filed since 2017, according to official department numbers. And over the past three years, denaturalization case referrals to the department have increased 600 percent.”
- In a budget request for FY2019, the administration asked for $207.6 million to investigate 887 additional leads it expects to get into American citizens who may be vulnerable to denaturalization, and to review another 700,000 immigrant files.
- The Trump administration launched an office that focuses on identifying immigrants who are suspected of cheating to get their green cards or citizenship and seek to denaturalize these individuals. In 2018, USCIS Director Cissna stated that “he hopes the agency’s new office in Los Angeles will be running by next year but added that investigating and referring cases for prosecution will likely take longer.”
- In September 2016, the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report finding that USCIS granted U.S. citizenship to at least 858 individuals ordered deported or removed under another identity when, during the naturalization process, their digital fingerprint records were not available. OIG recommends that ICE finish uploading into the digital repository the fingerprints it identified, and that DHS resolve these cases of naturalized citizens who may have been ineligible. Further, the report found that fingerprint records were missing from hundreds of thousands of cases for a variety of reasons.
- IRAC: Denaturalization and Revocation of Naturalization – April 7, 2020
- ABA: Due Process and Denaturalization – January 14, 2019
- ILRC: Naturalization and Crimes – on September 12, 2019
This advanced webinar will address how to identify criminal convictions that are relatively harmless to a naturalization applicant, as well as ones that could cause a denial of the application, and the most dangerous, those that are deportable offenses. We will review when a denial may result in referral for removal proceedings, under the 2018 USCIS Notice to Appear Memorandum.
- ILRC: Denaturalization: Understanding the Process and Recent Increases in Denaturalization Efforts
- December 21, 2018
- ACLU/ILCR: The Trump Administration’s Plan to Strip Citizenship from Thousands of Americans - September 2018
- FindLaw: Can Your U.S. Citizenship Be Revoked?
- This article covers the grounds for having one's U.S. citizenship revoked, the basics of the denaturalization process, and defenses to denaturalization.
- National Immigration Project: Fact Sheet on Denaturalization
- Immigrant Defense Project: FAQs on Denaturalization and Convictions
- Bipartisan Policy Center: Immigrants: Can the Government Revoke Your Citizenship? - July 5, 2018
Government Announcements and Resources
- DHS/USCIS – Privacy Impact Assessment for the ATLAS – October 30, 2020
- DOJ Announces Creation of a Section Dedicated to Denaturalization Cases – February 26, 2020
- USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 12 (Citizenship and Naturalization), Part L – Revocation of Naturalization - Current as of May 23, 2018
- DHS OIG Report: Individuals with Multiple Identities in Historical Fingerprint Enrollment Records Who Have Received Immigration Benefits – September 25, 2017
- United States Attorneys’ Bulletin, Vol. 65, No. 3, July 2017 – Civil Denaturalization: Safeguarding the Integrity of U.S. Citizenship
- OIG Report: Potentially Ineligible Individuals Have Been Granted U.S. Citizenship Because of Incomplete Fingerprint Records – September 8, 2016
Denaturalization Efforts by the Government
- The Intercept: Little-Known Federal Software Can Trigger Revocation of Citizenship – August 25, 2021
- New York Times: Justice Dept. Establishes Office to Denaturalize Immigrants – February 26, 2020
- Quartz: The radical immigration changes under Trump that went unnoticed – December 17, 2019
- The American Prospect: The New War on Naturalized Citizens – October 15, 2019
- The New Republic: Trump’s Cynical War on American Citizenship - July 30, 2019
- The Intercept: Trump Administration Is Spending Enormous Resources to Strip Citizenship from a Florida Truck Driver - April 4, 2019
- The Nation: Trump Wants to Take Away Your Citizenship - March 21, 2019
- The Intercept: The Justice Department Singled Out This Man in Expanding Efforts to Strip Citizenship. A Judge Doesn't Think the Case is Open and Shut. - February 23, 2019
- The Nation: How Trump Is Stripping Immigrants of Their Citizenship – December 21, 2018
- The New York Times Magazine: Is Denaturalization the Next Front in the Trump Administration's War on Immigration? - December 19, 2018
- American Immigration Council’s Immigration Impact: This Citizenship Day Marred by Government’s Focus on Stripping People of Their Citizenship – September 17, 2018
- Rewire.news: Why We're Fighting Donald Trump's Denaturalization Task Force - August 24, 2018
- Los Angeles Times: Under Trump, the rare act of denaturalizing U.S. citizens on the rise – August 12, 2018
- Smithsonian.com: Stripping Naturalized Immigrants of Their Citizenship Isn’t New – July 24, 2018
- The New York Times: Congratulations, You Are Now a U.S. Citizen. Unless Someone Decides Later You’re Not. – July 23, 2018
- Vox: Denaturalization, explained: how Trump can strip immigrants of their citizenship – July 18, 2018
- Kera News: The US is using an expanded fingerprint database to review the citizenship of thousands of Americans – July 10, 2018
- The Nation: Why Trump’s Denaturalization Task Force Matters – July 10, 2018
- The New Yorker: In America, Naturalized Citizens No Longer Have an Assumption of Permanence – June 18, 2018
- CNN: Trump admin creates new office to investigate citizenship fraud – June 13, 2018
- APNewsBreak: US launches bid to find citizenship cheaters – June 12, 2018
- Slate: Trump Administration Launches Effort to Strip Citizenship From Those Suspected of Naturalization Irregularities – June 11, 2018
- American Immigration Council’s Immigration Impact: Supreme Court Limits Power to Revoke Naturalized Person’s Citizenship – July 13, 2017
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 18072705.