President Donald Trump’s administration announced a new Justice Department unit focused on revoking U.S. citizenship obtained through fraud.
The new section will function as another arm of the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation. Its purpose will be the denaturalization of those who obtained citizenship “procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation.” Specifically, they will target those who neglected to disclose previous terrorist or criminal activities or affiliations on their “N-400” naturalization form.
Part 12 of the N-400 asks pointed questions about prior affiliations and activities. It includes questions about far-ranging potential involvement in anti-American interests: from Nazi, communist, and totalitarian loyalties, to involvement in torture, murder, and weapons trade. Those who were granted citizenship from lying in whole or in part on the N-400 will face a reckoning.
“When a terrorist or sex offender becomes a U.S. citizen under false pretenses, it is an affront to our system — and it is especially offensive to those who fall victim to these criminals,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said. “The new Denaturalization Section will further the Department’s efforts to pursue those who unlawfully obtained citizenship status and ensure that they are held accountable for their fraudulent conduct.”
The need for the team comes primarily from a marked increase in such cases due to the efforts of fraud investigations by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Obama-era “Operation Janus,” which uncovered hundreds of thousands of immigration cases in which paper fingerprint information was not entered in the central database.
Recent cases that would now fall under this section’s purview include an Egyptian al-Qaeda recruiter, an Osama Bin Laden collaborator, a Bosnian soldier convicted of war crimes, and a serial sexual abuser. The team will focus exclusively on those who both committed such crimes before coming to the U.S., and then lied about their past during the immigration process.