Justices make it harder to strip citizenship
The government cannot strip citizenship from someone who lied in the application process if the falsehood wasn’t central to claims for immigration benefits, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The decision could make it tougher for the government to oust people it deems to have misled immigration authorities.
Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court in the unanimous decision, said the government must prove in citizenship-stripping trials that the lie was serious enough that if officials had known the truth at the time, they would have denied citizenship.
“So the issue a jury must decide in a case like this one is whether a false statement sufficiently altered those processes as to have influenced an award of citizenship,” Justice Kagan wrote.
The case before the court involved Divna Maslenjak, a Bosnian Serb who sought refugee status in the U.S. in 1998 after Bosnia’s civil war.
She told authorities her family fled because of fear of persecution and abuse after her husband evaded service in the Bosnian Serb Army.
Later, though, it was revealed Ms. Maslenjack’s husband had served as an officer in the Bosnian Serb Army and participated in the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims.
The government charged her with lying to the government and tried to strip her citizenship based on the lie.