by Jose Enrique Perez
Yes, you read this right. Trump wants your citizenship not only if you were born here and one of your parents is undocumented, but also if you naturalized US citizen and happen to make a mistake, he will take your citizenship away. We will not discuss today the issue when you are born here and he wants it, but we will discuss the other issue.
The Department of Justice just last month announced the creation of an office dedicated to investigating and litigating revocation of naturalization. The Denaturalization Office will allegedly bring to justice terrorists, war criminals, sex offenders, and other fraudsters who illegally obtained naturalization. What people don’t know is that the government always has had the power to take away something that was pursued illegally or fraudulently. In fact, 95% of the time the government has prosecuted denaturalization, it has been able to take away the citizenship. So, what is this a big deal now then? Because the racism and prejudice of this administration will now lead to improper proceedings and will likely impact disproportionately the lives of Latinos (i.e., unjust
prosecution, racial profiling, lack of resources to hire a lawyer, etc.) all would lead to Latinos to be denaturalized unjustly.
The administration said: “The Denaturalization Section will further the Department’s efforts to pursue those who unlawfully obtained citizenship status and ensure that they are held accountable for their fraudulent conduct.” That is fine and they have been doing it. In fact, the USCIS has to investigate the claim of citizenship while the person has the application pending.
The government will have to prove in denaturalization cases that a defendant’s naturalization was “illegally procured” or “procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation…” 8 U.S.C. § 1451. Surprisingly, civil denaturalization cases have no statute of limitations. That is, the government can take it away at any time for the rest of your life. Yes, for the rest of your life.
For many years, even prior to Trump, 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 which now they will have the power to do based on the creation of this new office of Denaturalization.
During the Trump administration, however, those efforts have increased in the hundreds. 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.”
But what is the financial impact of this new persecution of immigrant citizens? In a budget request for Fiscal Year 2019, 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.
You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.
I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Law Office of Jose Perez has now moved and is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the April edition.