Friday, March 31, 2017
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Maslenjak v. United States on April 28. The case involves an ethnic Serb who fled Bosnia and allegedly made false statements to U.,S. immigration officers about her husband's military service in Bosnia. The petitioner states the question in the case as whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit erred by holding, in direct conflict with the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 1st, 4th, 7th and 9th Circuits, that a naturalized American citizen can be stripped of her citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement.
An amicus brief filed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice and other groups contends that
"The Sixth Circuit’s holding—that under 18 U.S.C. § 1425(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 1015(a), any knowing false statement or omission can be grounds for denaturalization and criminal prosecution—would have dire consequences for naturalized citizens, significantly discourage lawful immigrants from seeking citizenship, and undermine a cornerstone of American society and values. As amici know well, the naturalization process is rife with potential for irrelevant misstatements, particularly for applicants who speak English as a second language and apply without the benefit of professional assistance. If any irrelevant misstatement can be grounds for denaturalization and prosecution, a substantial number of citizens will be placed at risk."