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Denaturalization Campaign

immigration lawyer New York CityThe 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.

 

Is denaturalization a new process?

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.

 

What are the grounds for denaturalization?

According to the USCIS, there are several grounds for revocation of naturalization, including:

  • Obtaining Naturalization Illegally – An individual has failed to comply with any of the requirements for naturalization at the time he or she became a citizen.
  • Concealment of Material Fact or Willful Misrepresentation – An individual has purposely misrepresented or failed to disclose facts on his or her naturalization application and subsequent examination.
  • Membership or Affiliations with Certain Organizations – An individual is a member of or is affiliated with the Communist party, other totalitarian parties, or terrorist group within five years of his or her naturalization.
  • Other than Honorable Discharge from the Armed Forces Before Five Years of Service – An individual who became a citizen through naturalization on the basis of honorable service in the U.S. armed forces left the armed forces on other than honorable discharge before he or she has served at least five years.

 

Who can be denaturalized?

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.

 

How does denaturalization occur?

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) can denaturalize citizens in federal district court through a civil suit or criminal prosecution.

 

What happens after someone is denaturalized?

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.

Immigration Consequences of Criminal and Fraudulent Conduct
The immigration consequences of criminal or fraudulent conduct can be harsh and often illogical. Even a very minor offense could have a dramatic immigration consequence, including deportation, detention without bond, being denied naturalization, a visa or re-entry into the United States. Likewise, the use of fake or fraudulent documents, aliases, and other misrepresentations can have similar immigration consequences. Kerry Bretz and Bretz & Coven have been counseling non-citizen criminal defendants, as well as their lawyers, for over 20 years. We have a long history of strategizing deportation and removal defenses, as well as applications for waivers, in very complicated cases.

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