Upholding the Value of Our Citizenship

W.D. Reasoner, Center for Immigration Studies, January 2013

Executive Summary

This paper examines the surprising number of naturalized citizens who have been charged and convicted of serious national security crimes—including terrorism, espionage, and theft of sensitive information and technology—in the last several years. It compares the relative ease with which aliens naturalize with the extreme difficulty in stripping them of citizenship, even when they prove to be national security threats who have gamed the system.

It also discusses the fact that the federal government, and the Department of Homeland Security in particular, have no systematic method of examining such cases to establish a baseline of “lessons learned” to attempt to weed out future threats, nor make any significant effort to denaturalize individuals even after they have committed serious national security offenses of the type described. It recommends that if the government will not or cannot take better care to prevent the admission of individuals who are serious threats to our safety, then it must move more aggressively to reverse its mistakes and strip citizenship from those who commit national security crimes against our nation.

Key findings include:

  • In the past decade, dozens of naturalized U.S. citizens have been arrested and charged with a variety of serious national security-related offenses involving terrorism, spying, and theft of sensitive information and technology.
  • The federal government almost never revokes the citizenship of these naturalized citizens, even when it is clear that they concealed material facts regarding their extreme ideas or associations with terrorist groups or foreign intelligence organizations at the time they naturalized.
  • There is no central government repository of information about naturalized citizens who engage in serious national-security offenses.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has no systematic method for collecting the information nor efforts in place to review such cases, either for the purpose of instituting denaturalization or in order to discern whether there are steps it can and should take to better vet applicants during the naturalization process.
  • Administrative naturalization continues unabated with hundreds of thousands being granted citizenship each year (over 6.5 million in the last decade).
  • The consequence of these actions is to place all Americans at greater risk, as shown by the kinds of crimes for which many naturalized citizens have already been arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced.
  • The now-defunct INS, a predecessor agency to DHS’s U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), had created a parallel regulatory structure to administratively denaturalize individuals when facts came to light revealing that an applicant had been ineligible at the time of naturalization.
  • In July 2000, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the regulation exceeded the INS’s authority and issued an injunction against its use.
  • As a result of the Ninth Circuit decision, presently the only way naturalized citizens can be stripped of citizenship is through criminal prosecution or civil suits in the already overburdened federal district courts.
  • Congress has within its power the ability to pass legislation re-instituting the capability to administratively denaturalize individuals granted citizenship in error or as a result of misrepresentations, concealment of materials facts, or other forms of fraud. Doing so would help protect the American people and enable the government to better ensure the integrity of the administrative naturalization process.

[Editor’s Note: The full report is available at the original article link below.]

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  • Tim

    This issue was one of the first that brought me to this web site. Along with practical street stories. I merely had to compare my own childhood where we watched ” A Man Without A Country” with the policy of now either giving away or selling citizenship for the price of a lawn chair.

  • My key finding:

    * We’ll give citizenship to anything with a pulse as long as he or she is not white, then act surprise when they side with their tribe.

    • GM (Australia)

      A lot of immigrants from the 3rd world took part citizenship ceremonies here on the recent Australia Day Holiday. It was noticeable that many were in “Ethnic” costumes. Will they be Australians or simply remain as Africans, Indians etc with the protection of an Australian passport?

      I have also noticed further letters to the press questioning parts of the citizenship oath, suggesting that certain sections may offend new arrivals, this is unreal, do they really want to become Australians? (Or as you say, side with their tribe)

  • There was also the case of the former Nazi guard who lied about his WW2 activities and was stripped of his US citizenship and returned to Germany for trial. There were also natural born citizens involved in espionage for a price, Remember John Walker and his family?

    • Guest

      “…the case of the former Nazis guard who lied about his WW2 activities…”

      Are you referring to John Demjanjuk? He was railroaded and returned to Germany for trial, even the Israelis released him from custody in Israel saying they got the wrong guy.

      Read this article by Jim Traficante, who paid a VERY heavy price for coming to the defense of Demjanjuk. http://americanfreepress.net/html/demjanjuk_fights_201.html

  • bigone4u

    Espionage by Israeli immigrants and Chinese immigrants is an open secret. I doubt the Mexicans are stealing secrets. They prefer to steal “stuff.” Ditto the Africans.
    If spys are stripped of their citizenship, that’s not much of a punishment, other than allowing them to be deported after their prison sentence is up. The death penalty might be a better deterrent to spying.

    • Sean

      But haven’t you heard the preaching from the GOP pulpit? The tribe is our greatest ally and the Chinese are like Santa’s elves, making things so our lives can be happy forever.

  • The__Bobster

    I suspect that a large number of the foreign college graduates that Obongo and Romney want to automatically grant green cards to would gladly engage in espionage for their countries of origin.

    And why not? I mean, there doesn’t seem to be much of a chance of suffering any significant punishment.

    • bigone4u

      At the university I used to work at there were rumors for years that the Chinese exchange students and professors were spies. The administration did nothing because the Dean and a couple of other administrators got to spend a few weeks every year living it up in China on the grant money that financed the program. Economic spying, which is what was going on, is legal. In other words, the Chinese came in and collected publically available data and made friends with higher up business people. Basically, they were trying to get jobs to move to China and possibly collect info that the military might find useful down the line. I called the administrators traitors, which did not endear me.

      • JohnEngelman

        I do not see anything wrong with that at all. They were not giving the Chinese government classified information. They were not stealing trade secrets from American companies.

      • The Verdict of History

        Much of that information could have been found on the web.

        No spying there.

        • Lygeia

          The Chinese web is censored. They have to come here.

  • IstvanIN

    WE don’t value our citizenship. We elected a man, twice, of dubious citizenship status. We do not protect our borders. We argue over legalizing those who have broken our laws and broken into our nation, and in fact are considering giving them a path to citizenship. We repeatedly send men and women to Congress who do not respect our citizenship. Citizens marry aliens simply to give the alien citizenship (and get a payment in return). When an entire nation becomes so corrupted that actually discussing what benefits to give to law breakers, rather than how to punish them, shows how little value citizenship has in this nation.

    How often do people guard the garbage out on the curb?