Denaturalization Operation

Accord­ing to the Unit­ed States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) fail­ure to com­ply with any eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ment for nat­u­ral­iza­tion is sub­ject to revo­ca­tion of nat­u­ral­iza­tion. Most recent­ly, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) filed civ­il denat­u­ral­iza­tion com­plaints against Baljin­der Singh of New Jer­sey, Parvez Man­zoor Khan of Flori­da, and Rashid Mah­mood of Con­necti­cut under Oper­a­tion Janus. In Jan­u­ary 2018, Baljin­der Singh of New Jer­sey, whose fin­ger­prints were miss­ing from the cen­tral­ized dig­i­tal fin­ger­print repos­i­to­ry, was denat­u­ral­ized by the USCIS.

Accord­ing to the Immi­grant Legal Resource Cen­ter (ILRC), “Unit­ed States cit­i­zen­ship is not absolute—it may be “lost” in either of two ways: 1) Any cit­i­zen, by birth or nat­u­ral­iza­tion, may choose to aban­don it vol­un­tar­i­ly; or 2) if acquired through nat­u­ral­iza­tion, the gov­ern­ment may revoke cit­i­zen­ship if they can prove a per­son obtained cit­i­zen­ship ille­gal­ly. Expa­tri­a­tion is the vol­un­tary aban­don­ment of cit­i­zen­ship, while denat­u­ral­iza­tion is the revo­ca­tion of nat­u­ral­iza­tion and cit­i­zen­ship by the government.

Denat­u­ral­iza­tion applies only to peo­ple who became cit­i­zens through the nat­u­ral­iza­tion process. The ratio­nale for denat­u­ral­iza­tion is that the indi­vid­ual should not have been grant­ed nat­u­ral­iza­tion in the first place. There­fore, the
gov­ern­ment may revoke cit­i­zen­ship if the indi­vid­ual ille­gal­ly pro­cured or pro­cured cit­i­zen­ship by ‘con­ceal­ment of a mate­r­i­al fact or by will­ful mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.’ Once cit­i­zen­ship is lost, the per­son reverts back to their pre-nat­u­ral­iza­tion status.

In the past, denat­u­ral­iza­tion pro­ceed­ings were rare and usu­al­ly brought only against alleged war crim­i­nals and in oth­er extreme cas­es. How­ev­er, con­tin­u­ing their assault on immi­grants, fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has increased resources ded­i­cat­ed to pur­su­ing denat­u­ral­iza­tion in an effort to strip cit­i­zen­ship from
nat­u­ral­ized citizens.”

This resource, co-cre­at­ed by the ACLU and Immi­grant Legal Resource Cen­ter (ILRC), dis­cuss­es the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s denat­u­ral­iza­tion oper­a­tion and describes the process of denat­u­ral­iza­tion, who the tar­gets are and the num­ber of cas­es as well as the his­tor­i­cal con­text for these efforts.

This practice advisory, cre­at­ed by the ILRC briefly describes these recent efforts to increase denat­u­ral­iza­tions, the legal grounds and process for denat­u­ral­iz­ing a cit­i­zen, and the con­se­quences of denaturalization.