Can you be denaturalized or have your U.S. citizenship taken away? YES, denaturalization based on fraud or wrongdoing is growing. Immigration has requested $207.6 million to hire agents to investigate marriage, visa, residency and citizenship fraud.
The U.S. government does have the power to take citizenship away from those to whom it’s been granted. And the Trump administration has made it clear that it intends to use that power to identify, and denaturalize, people who it feels won their citizenship based on fraud.
The Department of Justice has the power to file a denaturalization lawsuit against a naturalized citizen under two circumstances: first, if they obtained their citizenship illegally — i.e., they didn’t actually meet the legal requirements of citizenship — or, second, if they lied about or concealed something during the citizenship process that was relevant to their case. (As you can probably guess, what counts as relevant — in legal terminology, “material” — is the source of a lot of questions about when denaturalization is appropriate.) They also have the option to charge someone criminally for fraud in naturalization.
If the government prevails in court, the immigrant reverts from being a US citizen to being a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). And green card holders can be stripped of their legal status, and deported, without a court hearing if they’re found to violate the terms of their status (for example, committing certain crimes).
So denaturalization doesn’t actually kick someone out of the country — or even automatically make them eligible to getting kicked out of the country. But it opens the door to that possibility, by stripping them of the only foolproof protection against deportation an immigrant has.
For more information on Denaturalization,
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