Denaturalization, a complex process once primarily reserved for Nazi war criminals and human rights violators, is on the rise under the Trump administration, and a Citizenship and Immigration Services team in Los Angeles has been reviewing more than 2,500 naturalization files for possible denaturalization, it was reported Monday.
The team is focusing on identity fraud and willful misrepresentation, and more than 100 cases have been referred to the Justice Department for possible action, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We’re receiving cases where (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) believes there is fraud, where our systems have identified that individuals used more than one identity, sometimes more than two or three identities,” Dan Renaud, the associate director for field operations at the citizenship agency, told The Times. “Those are the cases we’re pursuing.”
The move comes at a time when Trump and top advisors have made it clear that they want to dramatically reduce immigration, both illegal and legal, according to The Times. The administration granted fewer visas and accepted fewer refugees in 2017 than in previous years.
Recently, the federal government moved to block victims of gang violence and domestic abuse from claiming asylum. White House senior advisor Stephen Miller is pushing a policy that could make it more difficult for those who have received public benefits, including Obamacare, to become citizens or green card holders, according to multiple news outlets.
Dozens of U.S. mayors, including L.A.’ Eric Garcetti, signed a letter sent to the citizenship agency’ director in late July, criticizing a backlog in naturalization applications and the agency’s commitment of resources to “stripping citizenship from naturalized Americans.”
“The new measure to investigate thousands of cases from almost 30 years ago, under the pretext of the incredibly minimal problem of fraud in citizenship applications, instead of managing resources in a manner that processes the backlogs before them, suggests that the agency is more interested in following an aggressive political agenda rather than its own mission,” the letter stated.
But Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports tighter controls, said that “denaturalization, like deportation, is an essential tool to use against those who break the rules.
“It’s for people who are fraudsters, liars,” he said, according to The Times. “We’ve been lax about this for a long time, and this unit that’s been developed is really just a question of taking the law seriously.”
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