Could a Trump administration strip a naturalized citizenship?
January 31, 2017 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I saw this question about birthright citizenship. My question is a little bit different. What changes to current law and policy could allow an administration to strip someone of her naturalized citizenship?
posted by infinitewindow to Law & Government (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you specifically talking about a US administration or other countries?
In the UK, the Home Secretary has the power to do this.
posted by plep at 1:37 PM on January 31, 2017

In the U.S., naturalized citizenship can already be revoked in a small set of circumstances, mostly involving lying on your application, joining a terrorist group or the Communist Party, and getting kicked out of the military when that's how you became eligible for citizenship. In order to expand those grounds, likely Congress would have to pass and the President would have to sign a law amending the Immigration and Nationality Act. And of course, affected people might sue to ask the courts to strike down that amendment on constitutional or other grounds. But that appears, to the best of my understanding, to be the current state of things.

(IAAL, IANAImmigrationL, TINLA)
posted by decathecting at 1:39 PM on January 31, 2017

This is the current list on Wikipedia of denaturalized (former) US citizens.

It includes primarily those who lied about their role in WWII/Nazi death camps, some folks who appear to have orchestrated immigration fraud, and a smattering of folks accused of hiding associations with terrorist groups.

I am decidedly not a lawyer but I would think a wholesale broadening of the definitions of "subversive groups" would be one mechanism the current administration could attempt to use to either strip naturalized citizens or chill them from participating in the resistance.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

In order to expand those grounds, likely Congress would have to pass and the President would have to sign a law amending the Immigration and Nationality Act.

I would have to think that enforcing changes retroactively would count as an ex post facto law.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:25 PM on January 31, 2017

The big change would be on the judicial side: the direction of precedent since Afroyim has been to narrow the circumstances by which US citizens can lose citizenship, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

There's a SCOTUS case set for this year (to resolve a conflict between circuits) on whether a citizen can be stripped of citizenship for an "immaterial false statement" during the immigration process, where most circuits have come down on the side of "no".
posted by holgate at 2:53 PM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also on Wikipedia Category:People who lost United States citizenship. Poking around, in addition to Nazis I've noticed organized crime figures and Irish terrorists/revolutionaries from the 20th century are other common trends.
posted by XMLicious at 3:12 PM on January 31, 2017

I wondered the same thing, especially since I have, in the past, traveled to predominantly Muslim countries. I'm afraid to renew my expired passport for fear this might result in scrutiny and I end up on a list or something.. I'm not underestimating the potential for broadening the scope of the EO.

Even before this administration, the US has had a troubling history in regards to immigration. When rights are tied to citizenship, and the definition of "American" is being redefined, things like this does not surprise me.
posted by loquat at 4:30 PM on January 31, 2017

Your question speaks volumes about the country USA has become in just 10 days of this presidency. Although yes it is possible and yes this non-administration would try it, it will be tough to pass and would be challenged.
posted by metajim at 6:15 PM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

An executive order has been drafted that would deport legal immigrants who use or are likely to begin using any financial-need-based public benefits. It hasn't yet been determined whether this EO will be carried forward. I didn't read every word of the EO to see whether it references naturalized citizens anywhere (e.g., to explicitly exclude them), and I don't know how laws might differentially protect naturalized citizens from it, as compared to legal immigrants. But it seems like another step on the slippery slope towards what you're asking about.

Here are the reports on this from The Washington Post and The Atlantic, the former of which links to the text of the EO itself.
posted by daisyace at 4:23 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

The most important question seems to me to be: will the Trump administration even follow court orders? Will federal marshals, customs agents, ICE, etc back the administration instead of the courts? So far the administration and CBP has ignored a court order. If this continues, then it doesn't matter what legal justification they do or don't come up with, right?
posted by latkes at 7:49 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

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