US government tells Supremes it could strip citizenship from virtually all naturalized Americans if it wanted to


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/29/kafka-vs-orwell.html


#2

Why not move on to specific cases? The First Lady lied about her work history. Can she be denaturalized now? How about Sebastian Gorka?

Citing political figures would underscore the inevitable use of this proposal: getting rid of politically inconvenient people. It happened with Emma Goldman.

It’s not going to be friends of the powers that be who get denaturalized for traffic tickets. They won’t even be denaturalized for lying about being Nazis.


#3

Unfortunately, we see this kind of argument more often recently. The argument is not about citizenship, it is about people in the government having more and more arbitrary powers on other citizens. The operative word here being "arbitrary ".


#4

But Republicans know that we need to deconstruct government (because it’s evil), not make it more powerful.

/s


#5

You can’t hurry these things. It’s a game of give and take.


#6

Have they voted yet? Because I really want to see how Gorsuch votes.


#7

As far as I can tell, and IANAL, there are three possible outcomes to the impending ruling.

A) The false statement Divna Maslenjak made to an immigration official about her husband’s military service could be deemed immaterial to the official’s decision to grant refugee status, and that the pertinent law as written by Congress requires materiality…a ruling in her favor and the favor of anyone who seeking citizenship who told immaterial falsehoods, intentionally or by accident, to gain refugee status.

B) The false statement could be deemed immaterial, but that the law does not require materiality…opening the door to stripping naturalized citizens of citizenship for any falsehood whatsoever, whether intentional or accidental. At least some of the justices appear to recognize the absurdity of that position and the sweeping arbitrary power it grants the government.

C) Or they might rule that the law does require materiality, but that Divna Maslenjak’s false statement to the immigration official was material to the decision to grant refugee status and therefore later enabled her to gain citizenship. This would be bad for Divna Maslenjak, but wouldn’t open the door for denaturalization over absurdities like not reporting you once went five miles per hour over a speed limit without getting ticketed.

It’s worth noting, though, that if the Court does determine that the pertinent law as written does require the government to show materiality when stripping a naturalized citizen of citizenship, Congress can still potentially just pass a new version of the law explicitly removing the materiality requirement. Yet another vitally important reason to take back the Congress from the xenophobic Republican bigots next year.

I’m curious about something, if any legal eagles here could weigh in on it. Apparently her husband Ratko Maslenjak was stripped of his own naturalized citizenship and deported back to Serbia on the basis of her not disclosing his military service in the Serbian armed forces (a quick aside that although the Serbian army is now a volunteer service, before 2011 service was mandatory for able-bodied males, so it’s quite likely Ratko Maslenjak was conscripted).

So my question is: If the Court rules in Divna Maslenjak’s favor, would that decision also reverse whatever lower court ruling denaturalized her husband on the basis of her false statement, or will he remain denaturalized on the basis of his military service regardless of her statement’s role or lack thereof in enabling him to become a naturalized citizen?


#8

Even the Catholic Church doesn’t want that rigorous a confession.


#9

If the person no longer has another citizenship, then it runs into international treaties against creating stateless persons.


#10

But how many assclowns must we stand before we find a gov to live and let live again? Right now the only thing that keeps me hanging on when I feel my tolerance, yeah, it’s almost gone, I remember Trisaneldritch said…


#11

Ah, the old “we have to destroy the government to save the government” line.


#12

This was the part that gave me hope. It’s not easy to unite all nine justices or to prompt Chief Justice Roberts to say “oh, come on…” as he reportedly did during this exchange.


#13

I think the current crop of fascist wannabes, crypto-nazis, and actual nazis will hardly be deterred by such silly notions :cry:


#14

After five years, if a person becomes eligible again, he or she can be renaturalized, Parker said.

That would appear to be an outright lie. After all, if someone has been stripped of citizenship for such cause, how can that not be cause for denying or even subsequently re-removing naturalization?

This is nothing less than an early salvo in the battle to return to feudalism and make serfs of you all. I suggest you might want to stop it sooner rather than later. It’s worth remembering that Bush senior at least once asserted than non-Christians couldn’t properly be citizens.
The thin end of this wedge has already been set in place. This is a first mallet blow.


#15

It sounds like an alternate path to something like the Nuremberg laws. Sneak in some rulings and laws that create a stricter definition of citizenship and slowly tighten the definition so you can remove undesirables from the pool of “true 'Mericans.”


#16

It’s worth noting that this position–any falsehood used to procure citizenship, no matter how trivial, is grounds for revoking citizenship–is hardly unique to the Trump administration. It’s exactly the argument the Obama administration made in the courts below in this case, and exactly the argument the Obama administration advanced in a brief before the Supreme Court in this case (filed before Trump took office, and therefore signed by Obama’s acting Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn). Trump and the GOP are no doubt playing to xenophobes, but in this particular case, they haven’t come up with a novel, nativist interpretation of the law.


#17

There are really two possible outcomes: either (1) the Supreme Court agrees with the government’s argument that false statements need not be material, so Divna’s conviction stands, or (2) the Supreme Court agrees with Divna that materiality is required, so the case goes back down to be tried to a jury again. If materiality is required, the Supreme Court wouldn’t pass judgment in the first instance on whether the false statement is material; it’d let the trial court figure that out, with the appeals process playing out again.

In the event Divna wins at the Supreme Court and gets a do-over of her trial, I think she loses at the do-over anyway. The underlying lie (technically, Divna was convicted of lying on her citizenship application, but it was for lying about whether she’d lied to gain entry to the US previously) was made to a US immigration official in Belgrade: that she and her family feared persecution because Ratko refused to be conscripted into the Serbian army. This got her asylum, and in turn allowed her to bring the family, including Ratko, to the US, where she eventually applied for and was granted citizenship.

Of course, it turned out Ratko had in fact served in the Serbian army. But he wasn’t just any old conscript: he was an officer in one of the units that carried out the Srebrenica Massacre.

Assuming the Supreme Court requires that the lie be material, I see no way it isn’t material in this case. Divna sought, and was granted, political asylum on the basis of her claim that her family faced persecution because Ratko was evading conscription. But Ratko was in fact an officer in a Serbian army unit that committed notorious war crimes. There’s no way Divna would have been granted asylum (and, eventually, been allowed to apply for citizenship) had the US immigration official in Belgrade known the truth. This case is a far cry from forgetting that you once drove 60 in a 55 and saying you’d never broken the law.

As for Ratko’s deportation, he never got citizenship. He was a green card holder. He was convicted of making false statements on a government application because he failed to disclose his Serbian army service, and because he was only a green card holder, his conviction rendered him immediately deportable.


#18

“We know that it is impossible for you not to have broken at least one law. Therefore, by indicating that you have not broken any laws, you’ve lied on the form, and are thus are subject to de-naturalization at the prerogative of the government.”

“But if I did indicate my answer was yes?”

“Then you would be subject to de-naturalization at the prerogative of the government.”

“So this is a no-win situation.”

“No, not at all.”

“But how do I win?”

“Might I remind you that no-win means nobody wins. In this case, the government wins big-time. And since we represent you, that you means you win. You do agree that you are winning here. Right?”

“Umm. Yes?”

“Good answer, citizen-for-now.”


#19

Just to be clear, are you saying they wouldn’t, or they couldn’t?

Didn’t know that. But is it pertinent to the case? I gathered that it was just a question of if she lied, not why.

Could that be considered speculation? Or would they just subpoena the deciding immigration officer’s testimony? Can they just cite government policy at the time the decision was made, or do immigration officer’s have enough latitude to decide either way knowing the truth? That is, could the officer have granted her and/or her husband refugee status in the US knowing her husband was an officer who might have been involved in war crimes?

Clearly. But I was under the impression that the government’s case is that materiality doesn’t matter. If SCOTUS rules in favor of that argument, then what’s to stop whoever is in power in the government now or in the future from doing just that to any political undesirables on the most irrelevant of lies? Basically they seem to be arguing that only someone who is totally perfectly honest about everything they ever do can possibly be trusted to be honest about anything at all, including the really important stuff. I agree war crimes are important, but the government appears to be arguing that it simply doesn’t matter whether they are or not.

Ah, thank you.


#20

Ei incumbit probatio qui negat, non qui dicit? The burdern of proof is on the accused, not the accuser?