The threat of denaturalization, the process in which a citizen is stripped of their citizenship, has now become a harsh reality for some. In July 2018, The New York Times reported that, since President Trump took office, the number of denaturalization cases have increased. Denaturalization is part of the Trump administration’s campaign of increased immigration enforcement.
As mentioned in a previous article, in the past, the denaturalization process was primarily reserved for those who posed a threat to national security or had committed serious war crimes – such as former Nazis – or falsified their identities on immigration papers to avoid prosecution for crimes. However, in June 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would establish a new initiative to investigate previously approved naturalization applications in an effort to denaturalize those who used false identities and fake marriages to obtain citizenship or failed to disclose information regarding criminal activity or previous deportation orders during the naturalization process.
According to the USCIS, there are several grounds for revocation of naturalization, including:
Only those who obtained their citizenship by obtaining a green card and then submitting a naturalization application can be denaturalized. Natural born citizens cannot be stripped of their citizenship through a denaturalization process.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) can denaturalize citizens in federal district court through a civil suit or criminal prosecution.
After an individual is denaturalized, his or her status reverts back to being what it was prior to becoming a citizen, a lawful permanent resident (LPR). At which point, the federal government may commence removal proceedings against the denaturalized individual, likely on the grounds of fraud or criminal activity. The individual would then be placed in deportation or removal proceedings through U.S. immigration court.
Although denaturalization is rare, it is a frightening reality to the U.S. immigration community. If you or a loved one are concerned about your immigration status or are facing deportation, it is important to consult the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer. The New York immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP are experienced in representing clients throughout deportation, naturalization, and other immigration proceedings. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (212) 267-2555.