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Supreme Court Unanimously Limits Ability to Strip Citizenship for Lying on Immigration Forms

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, officially limited the federal government’s ability to strip citizenship from immigrants when they were caught lying on naturalization forms.

Why? Because according to the Court, the false statements are not relevant to an immigration official’s decision to grant citizenship. Therefore, a jury has to decide if false statements changed the decision.

The Supreme Court just made cleaning up America’s immigration mess tougher, as Reuters reports:

The justices sided with Divna Maslenjak, who had her citizenship revoked and was deported to Serbia after being convicted of breaking immigration law by falsely stating her husband had not served in the Bosnian Serb army in the 1990s.

“We hold that the government must establish that an illegal act by the defendant played some role in her acquisition of citizenship,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court.

The justices threw out a lower court ruling in favor of the government and sent the matter back to that court for further consideration. The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, when it again takes up the case, could still find that Maslenjak’s conviction and loss of citizenship were valid because her statements were in fact material to her bid to gain entry.

Maslenjak entered the United States with her husband and two children in 2000 and settled in Ohio, having been granted refugee status over a claimed fear of ethnic persecution in Bosnia at the hands of Muslims. She became an American citizen in 2007. At issue in the case was her concealment of her husband Ratko’s service in a Bosnian Serb Army brigade that participated in the notorious 1995 massacre of about 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

Masklenjak lied to protect her husband, claiming he never served in the Bosnian militia. However he did, and that militia unit was associated with war crimes.

Now, the case will be sent to a lower court for review.

What do you think about the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling? Please leave us a comment (below) and tell us.

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