The conceit of naturalization is that it makes an immigrant not only equal to natural-born citizens but indistinguishable from them.
[In early June], it emerged that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (U.S.C.I.S.) had formed a task force in order to identify people who lied on their citizenship applications and to denaturalize them. Amid the overwhelming flow of reports of families being separated at the border and children being warehoused, this bit of bureaucratic news went largely unnoticed. But it adds an important piece to our understanding of how American politics and culture are changing.
L. Francis Cissna, the director of U.S.C.I.S., told the Associated Press that his agency is looking for people who “should not have been naturalized in the first place”—for example, those who had been ordered to be deported earlier and obtained citizenship under a different name—and this sounds reasonable enough. It’s the apparent underlying premise that makes this new effort so troublesome: the idea that America is under attack by malevolent immigrants who cause dangerous harm by finding ways to live here.
Historically, denaturalization has been an exceedingly rare occurrence, for good reason: by the time a person is naturalized, she has lived in this country for a number of years and has passed the hurdles of obtaining entry, legal permanent residency, and, finally, citizenship. The conceit of naturalization is that it makes an immigrant not only equal to natural-born citizens but indistinguishable from them. So denaturalization, much like the process of stripping a natural-born American of citizenship, has been an extraordinary procedure reserved for very serious cases, mostly those of war criminals.
This was intended to weed out those who may have fraudulently made a case for US citizenship, which is fair. But would you honestly entrust someone's eligibility to remain here on the hope of this administration's Grifter-in-Chief and his henchmen doing the right thing, let alone granting due process?
[New Yorker: In America, Naturalized Citizens No Longer Have an Assumption of Permanence]