USCIS Taskforce Aims to Denaturalize Those Who Used Fraud to Obtain U.S. Citizenship

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is opening an office in Los Angeles, California, that will be tasked with searching for people who committed fraud in order to obtain U.S. citizenship. The office then may initiate denaturalization proceedings against such individuals in federal court. Although the USCIS, on rare occasion, has pursued denaturalization in cases in which facts were revealed that warranted this extreme action, there has never been a coordinated effort by the agency to search proactively for such cases.

Current USCIS Policy Under Trump Administration

The USCIS Director under the Trump Administration, L. Francis Cissna, has indicated that several dozen lawyers and immigration officers will review cases in which applicants were ordered deported and may have used fake identities to obtain lawful permanent residence, and then, ultimately, become U.S. citizens. The office will digitize fingerprint records from deportation proceedings conducted in the 1990s (i.e. before such records were routinely digitized) and compare them to fingerprint records provided in applications for lawful permanent residence (commonly, “green card”) and U.S. citizenship. If the records match, and an individual failed to disclose the deportation in applying for a green card and/or U.S. citizenship, the office may present the case to a federal judge and request that such individuals be stripped of U.S. citizenship.


While this new USCIS policy may cause alarm, it appears the USCIS is pursuing a fairly limited population of naturalized U.S. citizens. Further, the burden will be on the USCIS to prove to the court by clear and convincing evidence that the individual meets the legal standard necessary for the USCIS to commence proceedings for denaturalization.


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