The Trump administration announced a division within the Department of Justice focused solely on stripping citizenship from foreign-born U.S. citizens who did not disclose past criminal activity during their naturalization process.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is forming a unit within its Office of Immigration Litigation dedicated to denaturalizing those who did not disclose past convictions for heinous crimes, including child sexual exploitation and terrorist activity, the administration announced Wednesday. The decision came after the DOJ has already successfully stripped citizenship from those who were convicted of terrorist activity, human rights abuses and other crimes.
“When a terrorist or sex offender becomes a U.S. citizen under false pretenses, it is an affront to our system — and it is especially offensive to those who fall victim to these criminals,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said in a Wednesday statement.
“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,” Hunt continued.
The Office of Immigration Litigation itself already works on denaturalization cases. The office has done an immense job at stripping citizenship from convicted criminals who have lied on their application, winning 95% of the cases it has brought forward.
However, the increasing number of referrals anticipated from law enforcement agencies prompted the DOJ to create the new standalone division: The Denaturalization Section.
“This move underscores the Department’s commitment to bring justice to terrorists, war criminals, sex offenders, and other fraudsters who illegally obtained naturalization,” the DOJ stated in a Wednesday press release.
Denaturalization proceedings are not applicable to those who have committed crimes after they became citizens, but to those who previously committed crimes and failed to disclose that information on their citizenship application. While naturalized citizens cannot be deported, individuals who’ve had their citizenship revoked are reverted back to permanent residents, and then can be subject to removal. (RELATED: Judge Rules American-Born Woman Who Joined ISIS Is Not A US Citizen, Not Allowed To Return)
There are no statute of limitations for civil denaturalization cases, and the DOJ has denaturalized numerous individuals who illegally secured U.S. citizenship — including those who failed to mention that they are convicted terrorists, war criminals, sex offenders, human rights violators and others crimes in their home countries.
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