Is Denaturalization the Next Step in Immigration Enforcement?
February 26, 2019
As President Trump’s immigration policy continues to support strict immigration law enforcement, many naturalized citizens have begun to wonder if denaturalization is the next step in the country’s immigration control plans.
With the increased activity of an investigative unit called Operation Second Look, the answer may be yes. Since 2016, the number of denaturalization cases filed by the federal government has nearly doubled.
Operation Second Look
Denaturalization of a foreign-born citizen can occur if the government can prove that the individual received citizenship through material fraud or misrepresentation. This can include circumstances where bribes were paid to US. Immigration officials, or where the true identity of an individual is hidden, such as a war criminal or terrorist.
The goal of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations unit’s Operation Second Look is to identify individuals who have become naturalized citizens under improper circumstances. If an individual was granted citizenship when a deportation order was pending or with unresolved criminal or fraud charges, Operation Second Look would investigate the case for purposes of possible denaturalization.
The Homeland Security Investigations unit conducts the Operation Second Look investigations, while the Office of Immigration Litigation handles the denaturalization actions. Over 300,000 immigration cases have been earmarked for investigation under the program on suspicion of fraud, including the use of fake identities to obtain citizenship.
Increased Focus on Denaturalization
President Trump has made clear his intention to add denaturalization as a prong in his immigration enforcement plans. Since 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has marked 2500 cases for possible denaturalization, requested 300 new immigration enforcement officers, and added a California office to handle the increased workload.
Most recently the deportation division of ICE, Enforcement and Removal Operations, has identified 700,000 additional cases which it intends to investigate for fraudulent naturalization.
Creating Fear in Naturalized Citizens
Under the Operation Second Look program, naturalized citizens who have taken the oath of citizenship years earlier still face scrutiny and possible deportation, creating worry and confusion for many immigrants. Naturalized citizens who have voted in U.S. elections and who have traveled to and from the United States without fear of being denied reentry may now face possible denaturalization. Increased reports of U.S. citizens having their passports confiscated at foreign embassies further fuel these fears.
Immigration advocates are especially wary of the Operation Second Look program, which appears to target immigrants with no criminal history and seeks to take back citizenship once it has been granted. Of the over 100 denaturalization cases filed in 2017 on the basis of criminal naturalization fraud, several include individuals who have no criminal histories and who do not raise any natural security concerns.
Immigrants seeking to obtain citizenship without fear of future denaturalization should seek to avoid any appearance of fraud during the visa and citizenship application process. Working with an experienced Philadelphia citizenship lawyer who understands the complexities of United States immigration law is also a wise choice.
Philadelphia Citizenship Lawyers at The Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Assist Immigrants with Citizenship Matters
At the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC our experienced Philadelphia citizenship lawyers assist individuals with all types of immigration matters, including those related to visa applications, asylum petitions, and deportation matters. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, we represent immigrants throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the entire tristate area, and nationally. To schedule an appointment call us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online.