U.S. top court rules in favor of Serb stripped of U.S. citizenship

The Supreme Court voted on Thursday to restore USA citizenship to a Bosnian Serb woman, Divna Maslenjak, who lied about her husband’s military service in the Bosnian war, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump’s immigration policy by raising the bar for revoking citizenship. She was deported by the Obama administration, which held the broad view that any misrepresentation – whether relevant or not – was enough to give the government the right to consider revocation. On the application form, she marked “no” twice when asked if she had given false information to American consular officials to gain entry to the United States. And even then, the court stressed, the applicant can still defend against denaturalization by showing that she was qualified for citizenship.Lying to immigration officials doesn’t necessarily… She was later convicted of lying on her citizenship application. Maslenjuk countered that her omission in 1998 was immaterial to her application for refugee status. She is an ethnic Serb and said she and her family faced persecution. Specifically, at the government’s request, the judge instructed the jury that it should convict her if it found any of her statements was false, even if that statement did not affect the decision to grant her citizenship. That would give prosecutors almost limitless leverage – and afford newly naturalized Americans precious little security.While the court’s ruling did not venture an opinion, justices said at oral argument the government might well prove Maslenjak’s lies were material. Assistant Solicitor General Robert Parker replied yes. “In an effort to ‘operational [ize]’ the statute’s causation requirement”, he wrote, “the court says a great deal more, offering, for example, two newly announced tests, the second with two more subparts, and a new affirmative defense-all while indicating that some of these new tests and defenses may apply only in some but not all cases”.”Oh come on”, an incredulous Roberts responded. Kagan reiterated those same themes in her majority opinion on Thursday.”Suppose, for reasons of embarrassment or what have you, a person concealed her membership in an online support group or failed to disclose a prior speeding violation”. “When the illegal act is a false statement, that means demonstrating that the defendant lied about facts that would have mattered to an immigration official, because they would have justified denying naturalization or would predictably have led to other facts warranting that result”.Kagan noted that such a reading of the law could create paradoxical situations for would-be Americans seeking citizenship.Allowing the government to revoke citizenship on that “meager” basis “would give prosecutors almost limitless leverage – and afford newly naturalized Americans precious little security”. “The government could thus take away on one day what it was required to give the day before”.SCOTUS tightens standard for revoking citizenship in Maslenjak v.Maslenjak conceded that she had lied about her husband’s wartime record, but argued that she should be able to keep her citizenship because that particular lie was not material in determining her qualifications.