Published July 29, 2018


It is well known that a lawful permanent resident can be subjected to removal proceedings in the event they commit a deportable offense, or were improperly granted their residence in the first place due to some misrepresentation or fraud in their application.     Less well known or common are proceedings to revoke a foreign born individual’s naturalization as a U.S. citizen.


Examples of the rare cases of denaturalization that have gained wider attention over the years are those involving foreign nationals who concealed during U.S. immigration processing their involvement with Nazi war crimes during World War II, or more recently other types of terrorist activities.   Concluding that serious misrepresentations are being made by too many U.S. residence and citizenship applicants, the Trump administration is hiring dozens of lawyers and immigration officers to investigate thousands of naturalization cases where fraud is being suspected.  

The cases attracting most of the attention in this context are the ones involving previously deported applicants who reentered under assumed identities and obtained their U.S. residence and later their U.S. citizenship without mention of their previous deportation or identity.    According to a recent Department of Homeland Security investigation, there have been 858 cases of immigrants who were granted U.S. citizenship, although they had previously been deported under another identity.   

Additionally, individuals who were approved for U.S. citizenship after concealing significant criminal backgrounds are also being reviewed.     These types of cases likely got through the system in pre-9/11 days when the vetting of an applicant’s previous immigration and/or criminal record was highly imperfect – as opposed to the more rigorous and reliable procedures that have been implemented in the past 17 years.

The process of denaturalization starts with intensive document review, and from there the suspect applicant is reinterviewed.  If facts are compelling enough, proceedings to strip the applicant of their U.S. citizenship and eventually deported, will commence.   


Immigrant rights groups have expressed concern that this new initiative has the potential to involve abuse of power, with DHS officials having the opportunity to find a limitless number of pretexts to reverse a foreign born’s naturalization process, even where a misrepresentation or issue may be immaterial or relatively benign.   

In all, more than 2500 cases have been tagged for further investigation and so far 100 cases of suspected improper naturalization have been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for commencement of denaturalization proceedings.  If an individual finds themselves the subject of a denaturalization investigation, it is highly advisable that they seek out competent and experienced immigration counsel for legal representation during such proceedings.


PUBLISHED July 29, 2018– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2018, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois