The opportunity for an alien to become a naturalized United States citizen is the most significant immigration benefit our country offers. In order to naturalize, aliens are supposed to go through a specific process detailed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Generally speaking, the alien must first obtain lawful permanent resident status (LPR, commonly called a green card) through either consular processing abroad or adjustment of status if already in the United States in a nonimmigrant (temporary) status. In order to naturalize, the alien must be an LPR for at least five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen) and be a “person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.” With limited exceptions, the alien must also have “an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language” and “knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States”. Naturalized citizens have all the same rights and responsibilities of the native-born, including the ability to vote in federal elections and serve on juries.
Yet, the Washington Times just reported that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is on the verge of signing a memorandum that allows immigration cheats who naturalized to keep their U.S. citizenship. A draft version of the memo, which I have reviewed, says in part “Naturalized citizens deserve finality and security in their rights as citizens. Department policies should not cause a chilling effect or barriers for lawful permanent residents seeking to naturalize.”
These lines are a red herring that misstate the law and attempt to distract from the Biden administration’s policy objective of rewarding immigration fraud. Despite what the media claimed over the past four years, the concept of denaturalization was established by Congress, not the Trump administration. While criminal denaturalization has a 10-year statute of limitations, civil denaturalization generally does not. Any alien who followed the law and properly naturalized has “finality and security” in their rights. Likewise, it is preposterous to suggest that any LPR who is adhering to the law would view efforts by DHS to root out immigration cheats as a “chilling effect or barrier” to their own naturalization.
Rather than outright banning civil denaturalization efforts, the Mayorkas memo to the heads of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services imposes such onerous restrictions that it has the practical effect of ending civil denaturalization. Amusingly, the memo also says “Department policies must promote citizenship integration, while maintaining the integrity of the naturalization process.” The Biden political appointees who drafted this memo might want to consult a dictionary for the definition of “integrity”.
Predictably, the memo cites as authority for the policy President Biden’s Executive Order 14012, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans”. As I have repeatedly pointed out, the EO fails to define “barriers” and instead this vague edict is used to justify impermissible policies that circumvent laws and eligibility criteria the Biden administration dislikes. Apparently following the rules to naturalize is too much of a “barrier” in the eyes of the Biden political team. Immigration cheats, including the fraudulent asylee who became a USCIS adjudicator, are surely cheering on Secretary Mayorkas to sign the memo.