When is a lie bad enough to warrant deportation?

Becoming a citizen of the United States isn’t easy. Ask anyone in Kentucky who came into this country as a foreigner and went through the process. We’re sure they will agree.

In light of that, it would seem logical that, once granted, it shouldn’t be too easy for government to rescind that citizenship – the effects of which open the door to possible deportation, despite one’s fears of persecution. However, as a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court shows one lie by an applicant may be sufficient to trigger such action.

The crux of the case

To be clear, the law governing the naturalization process states that it is illegal for a person to knowingly break a law when seeking citizenship. Anyone later convicted of violating that law could be fined and sent to prison.

The case before the high court involves Serbian woman and her husband who fled Bosnia to the U.S. in 1999. They were granted refugee status and in 2007, she became a U.S. citizen. Later, in 2009, as the government sought to deport her husband because he had concealed in the Bosnian Serb military, the woman admitted she had also concealed her husband’s military status on her citizenship application.

In 2013, the federal government tried the woman, charging that she had lied to procure naturalization. She was convicted, her citizenship was revoked and she and her husband were deported.

The appeal made to the Supreme Court late last month was that her lie was minor and that it had no material affect on her being granted refugee status. Her attorney argued she shouldn’t lose her citizenship as a result. The government said the lie alone was sufficient cause for revocation and deportation.

Whether a lie of any kind is sufficient to warrant loss of U.S. citizenship is now a matter for the justices. A decision is likely sometime in June. Meanwhile, it seems clear that those seeking naturalization would do well to seek counsel and assistance of a skilled attorney to avoid potential trouble later.



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