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Supreme Court Limits Power to Revoke Citizenship Staff Writer

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Supreme Court Limits Power to Revoke Citizenship
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On Thursday the Supreme Court limited the government's ability to revoke U.S. citizenship from immigrants for lying during the naturalization process. The court rejected the position held by the Trump administration that even minor dishonesty on the application was grounds for revoking citizenship.

In the case of Maslenjak v. U.S. the justices ruled unanimously in favor of Divna Maslenjak, an ethnic Serb from Bosnia, who lied about her husband's military service.

Maslenjak resided in Bosnia in the 90’s when a civil war divided the new country. In 1998 she and her family sought refugee status in the United States, which was granted in 1999. They settled near Akron, Ohio, in 2000. She became a citizen in 2007.

When she was being interviewed for potential refugee status, she told officials that she was afraid of persecution from both sides of the civil war. She explained that the Muslim side would mistreat her family because of their ethnicity, and that the Serbs would persecute them because her husband had evaded service in the Bosnian Serb Army by fleeing to Syria. American officials granted them refugee status based on these facts.

As her initial story began to unravel in 2006, right around the time she applied for citizenship, Maslenjak admitted that she had lied to gain refugee status. Her husband had served as an officer in the Bosnian Serb Army. More than that, he had served in a brigade that participated in the Srebrenica massacre—a slaughter of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim civilians.

Lower courts upheld a criminal conviction against her that automatically revoked her citizenship. She and her husband were both deported in July.

She was originally convicted by a jury who was told that even a minor lie was grounds for conviction.

The high court returned the case to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to determine whether Maslenjak's false statements made a difference in the decision to grant her citizenship in the first place.

The justices ruled unanimously in favor of Maslenjak. Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that false statements can lead to the revocation of citizenship only if they "played some role in her naturalization."

Source: Nancy Lawrence - Staff Writer

Note from This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author,, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.

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