The U.S. government agency that oversees immigration applications is launching an office that will focus on identifying Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna told The Associated Press in an interview that his agency is hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalization.
Cissna said the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, whose attorneys could then seek to remove the immigrants’ citizenship in civil court proceedings. In some cases, government attorneys could bring criminal charges related to fraud.
Until now, the agency has pursued cases as they arose but not through a coordinated effort, Cissna said. He said he hopes the agency’s new office in Los Angeles will be running by next year but added that investigating and referring cases for prosecution will likely take longer.
Proponents say this program will remove citizenship from people who intentionally falsified records and shouldn’t have become citizens in the first place. But some immigration attorneys fear that immigrants who made mistakes on their papers will be swept by this process and won’t have the finances to fight back through the justice system.
We contextualize the program and weigh the pros and cons.
With files from the Associated Press.
Matthew Hoppock, immigration attorney who has been tracking data on denaturalization
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at Center for Immigration Studies