Justice Initiative Joins Call for Biden Administration to Halt Citizenship Stripping
The Open Society Justice Initiative has joined nearly 50 immigration and civil rights organizations calling for the incoming Biden administration to end the U.S. government’s use of denaturalizations, a draconian tool that was weaponized under the Trump administration to quietly strip naturalized Americans of color of their citizenship.
In 2019, the Justice Initiative released Unmaking Americans: Insecure Citizenship in the United States, a report that warned of a looming threat to U.S. citizenship due to the Trump administration’s abdication, and often attack of longstanding legal norms. The report, the first of its kind, found that the Trump administration had filed three times as many denaturalization cases than the last eight administrations, on average. Under Trump, the largest proportion of denaturalization cases targeted citizens of South Asian, Mexican, Haitian, and Nigerian descent.
Prior to 2016, denaturalization was considered a last resort, most often applied to alleged Nazis and war criminals who had deliberately concealed their identity in order to escape accountability. Shortly after the report’s release, on February 26, 2020, the Civil Division of the Department of Justice announced the creation of a section exclusively dedicated to investigating and litigating denaturalization cases, a move motivated by “the growing number of referrals anticipated from law enforcement agencies.” However, despite the escalation of the administration’s rhetoric and resources, the administration’s policies and practice remain hidden from scrutiny.
Specifically, the open letter calls on the incoming administration to:
- enact a day one moratorium on all denaturalizations until safeguards for the process are put in place;
- dismantle the Trump administration’s denaturalization offices and programs;
- disclose data related to individual denaturalization cases since 2008;
- remake the process into one that reinstates citizenship and saves denaturalization as a measure of last resort; and
- ensure technologies used by government do not target and surveil communities based on race and/or ethnicity.
Open Society Justice Initiative v. the United States Department of Justice et al.
The Justice Initiative has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to obtain records regarding activities and policies on the use of criminal and civil denaturalization of citizens, the revocation of derivative citizenship of family members, and policies and practice concerning statelessness in relation to denaturalization.
Unmaking Americans: Insecure Citizenship in the United States
This report argues that three techniques are currently being used by the U.S. government to attack the identity and sense of belonging of U.S. citizens.
Unmaking Americans: Insecure Citizenship in the United States—Fact Sheet
This fact sheet outlines how existing gaps in citizenship protections increase the vulnerability of citizens because of their race, national origin, religion, political opinion or a combination of factors.
Justice Initiative Welcomes First UN Human Rights Committee Ruling on the Right to Nationality for Children
The UN Human Rights Committee has found, in the case of Zhao v. Netherlands, that the Netherlands violated the rights of a child, Denny Zhao, by assigning him the status of “unknown” nationality when his birth in the country was registered.