The Supreme Court on Thursday held that federal law authorizes courts to strip immigrant citizens of their U.S. citizenship if they obtained it as a result of making false statements to the federal government.
Federal law found at 18 U.S.C. § 1425(a) makes it a crime to “knowingly procur[e], contrary to law, the naturalization of any person” to become a U.S. citizen. (“Naturalization” is the legal term for becoming a citizen.) Moreover, a second federal statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1451(e) adds that a foreigner who obtains U.S. citizenship through such a violation will lose that newly granted citizenship.
Divna Maslenjak is a Serb who, along with her husband and two children, sought refugee status in 1998 to flee Bosnia. As part of seeking protected status, she swore under oath that the family feared persecution because her husband evaded military service. They were admitted to the United States in 2000 as refugees.
In 2006, she applied for U.S. citizenship. One question on her application asked if she had ever given “false or misleading information” while applying for immigration benefits. Another asked if she had “lied … to gain entry or admission” in this country. She answered “no” to both and became an American citizen in 2007.