'Denaturalization Task Force' Bad News, Even If It Does Deport Melanie

Yr Wonkette noted back in January that the New Cruelty was ramping up an effort to start examining the records of naturalized American citizens to make sure that, at the time they were naturalized, they hadn't lied on any of their paperwork. In particular, Homeland Security wants to comb through old fingerprint records and make sure people with deportation orders against them didn't sneak back and apply a second time under a slightly different name. Last month, L. Francis Cissna, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced a "denaturalization task force" that would go after such cheaters, strip them of their citizenship, and deport them as being bad for America. Don't worry, he assured everyone, this will only affect a few thousand people who never would have gotten away with becoming citizens if all the fingerprint records had been in digital form, so really, USCIS is simply setting things back on the right track and getting rid of potentially dangerous illegal criminal people!

Then came the babies in cages story, and the annual Fourth of July stories about the traditional naturalization ceremonies that take place to celebrate America. This Independence Day NPR story about the Trump administration's effort to comb through old records and strip naturalized Americans of their citizenship suddenly brought the denaturalization police to the public's attention:

Columbia University history professor Mae Ngai pointed out to host Ailsa Chang just how unusual it is for the USA to strip people of their citizenship:

Ngai: The last time the federal government tried to denaturalize citizens was during the McCarthy period. And they went after people who they were accusing of being Communists who were naturalized citizens. And they took away their citizenship and deported them. It wasn't that many people because, actually, it's not that easy to do. But that was the last time that there was a concerted effort. So it's been...

Chang: Wow.

Ngai: ...Almost 75 years...


...Since the government has tried to do it. And I think most people would say that the Red Scare, or the McCarthy period, was not the nation's proudest moment.

Well, by Crom, this administration isn't about to let any other administration have less proud moments, so let's get on with the denaturalization witch hunts, shall we? Chang pointed out that in the past, some Americans have indeed been denaturalized, but those cases generally involved authorities getting a tip that someone had falsified their eligibility for citizenship -- there haven't been this kind of systematic fishing expedition with the express aim of removing citizenship and then deporting people. Why, it's even more intrusive than, say, a federal prosecutor looking through someone's tax returns just to find some error to charge them with -- and the consequences are nothing less than loss of citizenship. As vetting goes, it's pretty extreme.

As Slate's Jamelle Bouie points out, there's no guarantee this will stop with the few thousand citizens who may have lied on their naturalization paperwork. We've already seen Jeff Sessions decree that victims of domestic violence and gang violence aren't entitled to asylum, so why not start denaturalizing people granted citizenship under that now "invalid" criterion? We'd like to think the Supremes wouldn't stand for it, but then we wake up.

The goal, as Bouie points out, is really quite simple: expend any amount of effort to reduce the number of people who might make whites a voting minority. The message to immigrants is clear: even if you get citizenship, you'd better never think you're one of us. You don't belong, and once Republicans can figure out how to end birthright citizenship so that immigrants' kids will never be citizens, the end of white majority political power can be delayed a while longer.

But relax -- Donald Trump still loves hugging people wearing "LEGAL IMMIGRANT FOR TRUMP" shirts -- at least until he can find a way to convert them into deportable illegals, who are very bad.

What Part Of 'Legal' Doesn't Trump Understand?

And gosh, we haven't even gotten started on this Texas Tribune article about the many ways Homeland Security is finding to make it impossible for people to seek asylum "the right way," by requesting asylum at a port of entry. Among other cute tricks that seem designed just to bully migrants, Border Patrol agents are telling people the offices are full, please come back another day, so they'll have to take their chances in Mexico. Worse, people arrested for crossing the border illegally at least have (in theory if no longer in practice) the chance of getting out of ICE detention on bond, while those processed the "right" way can be held indefinitely (and have their kids taken, to boot!).

In another funny trick, probably the invention of Stephen Miller, agents physically block people from getting across the painted border line on bridges between the US and Mexico, so they can't get a foot on US territory. For all we know, the next step will be pushing them down at the line and shouting "Why are you deporting yourself? Why are you deporting yourself?"

Yes, do be sure to request asylum the "right" way. Forget having a lawyer -- you'll understand the system a lot better if you read some Kafka first.

OK, don't forget the lawyers. And don't forget the other ways to help the helpers. And just think -- in another half century, those of us who lived through the Trump Years will be able to give talks to schoolchildren about how all of this happened, and how we stopped it. Let's hope.

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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