Supreme Court: naturalized citizens cannot lose citizenship based on immaterial false statements
Supreme Court: naturalized citizens cannot lose citizenship based on immaterial false statements

The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] unanimously Thursday that naturalized citizens may not be stripped of their citizenship status based on false statements that were immaterial to becoming a citizen. The court held that in order to secure a conviction for violating 18 USC §1015(a) [text], the statute governing unlawful procurement of citizenship, the government must show that the alleged illegal act actually contributed to the obtaining of citizenship. In the case at hand, Diana Maslenjukan, an ethnic Serbian refugee from Bosnia, stated that her husband had evaded service in the Bosnian Serb Army when in fact he had served as an officer in the army in an application for entry into the US. Later when applying for citizenship, Maslenjukan stated that she had not given false information to authorities upon her entry into the US. In cases involving false statements, the court held that the government must prove that a defendant lied about facts that could warrant a denial of naturalization or lead to the discovery of facts that would lead to a denial of naturalization. In this case, the government found that the false statements would not have warranted such a denial.

The court heard oral argument [JURIST report] for this case in April. Prior to the oral argument, the US District Court for the District of Columbia stripped [JURIST report] an Egyptian-born man with ties to al Qaeda of his naturalized US citizenship for lying during his naturalization process. In that case, the false statements were found to be material to the granting of citizenship. Deprivation of citizenship has also affected countries abroad, where in March the European Court of Human Rights found against [JURIST report] a Sudanese man who was challenging the deprivation of his UK citizenship. The man in that case had his citizenship revoked after he was suspected to have made affiliations with Al-Shabaab and to have engaged in terror-related activities. In July 2016 the Supreme Court of Canada rejected [JURIST report] the appeal of a former Nazi after his Canadian citizenship was revoked numerous times.