North Carolina communities are taking a stance against Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement increased presence and arrests. Since January, ICE has targeted immigrants in12 counties across the state. ICE agents detained 32 people, 16 in Raleigh, prompting city leaders and immigrants to speak out against their increased actions.
Yet, efforts to resist ICE enforcement actions could be made harder as the Trump administration has rolled out a “Denaturalization Section” within the Department of Justice. Last week, the DOJ announced the official section that would strip citizenship from naturalized citizens.
It has raised alarms among some department lawyers who fear denaturalization lawsuits could be used against immigrants who have not committed serious crimes.
Critics say that the administration’s desire to prioritize denaturalizations underscores the idea that naturalized citizens have fewer rights than those born in the United States, and that immigrants should not assume that they cannot be deported even if they go through the naturalization process.
Over the past three years, denaturalization case referrals to the department have increased 600 percent.
From the earliest days of the Trump administration, officials including Stephen Miller, the White House aide who has driven much of President Trump’s immigration policy, said denaturalization could be used as part of a broad pushback on immigration.
Some Justice Department immigration lawyers have expressed worries that denaturalizations could be broadly used to strip citizenship, according to two lawyers who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
This move gives the Trump administration more power in their efforts to remove immigrants from the country. Since 2008, 40 percent of denaturalization cases that the department filed, were filed in 2017 — when Trump assumed office.
Data released in 2019 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, found that ICE has steadily been arresting more immigrants who lack a criminal record.
In the past two years, the percentage of those arrested who lack criminal convictions or pending charges, are up almost 50 percent for the Southeast.
Trump’s efforts violate the constitutional rights and safeguards that are meant to prevent arbitrary and abusive use of denaturalization. Weaponizing the DOJ into stripping individuals of their citizenship could lead to prejudice and hostility towards people of color, people of different faiths, and people from other parts of the world.
Trump’s denaturalization measure means an act of criminalizing and stripping away civil rights and protections because of where you were born. It seeks to create two classes of citizens one with fewer rights than the other. It would ultimately lead to separating families and violating the human rights of naturalized citizens by depriving them of their citizenship.