Andrea Noble, Washington Times, January 2, 2018
“The attorney general and the administration are focused on enforcing all immigration laws, especially when it comes to this pinnacle level of citizenship,” said one Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Native-born citizens cannot have their citizenship revoked, but those who became naturalized can lose citizenship, and all the rights that come with it, if they are found to have unlawfully or fraudulently obtained naturalization.
The Justice Department can seek to strip a person of citizenship either through a criminal case, by obtaining a conviction of naturalization fraud, or by filing a civil suit claiming the person procured naturalization illegally or procured it by through willful misrepresentation during the naturalization process.
The Justice Department stepped up the number of criminal charges brought in an effort to revoke citizenship in fiscal 2017, with 57 cases filed compared with 46 cases in fiscal 2016 and 44 cases in 2015.
At least another 25 civil denaturalization cases were also filed by the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation in 2017, according to an estimate provided by another Justice Department official.
Officials said civil denaturalization cases are pursued by the same office that handles other immigration cases — which is seeing plenty of work under the Trump administration. Despite the competing time pressures, officials said, they are getting encouragement to bring the denaturalization cases.
A senior Justice Department official said as the Department of Homeland Security continues its investigation and digitizes the paper fingerprint records, prosecutors expect to receive more affidavits that could support civil denaturalization cases.
But beyond cases identified as part of the ongoing Homeland Security Department review, Justice Department officials said the Office of Immigration Litigation is prioritizing denaturalization cases involving individuals found to have terrorism connections, or individuals with criminal backgrounds such as sex or child abusers or human rights abusers.