New York Representative Lee Zeldin has introduced a bill in the House that would allow U.S. authorities to revoke criminal immigrant gang members’ American citizenship.
On Tuesday, Zeldin put out a public statement to promote his legislation:
"From the vicious machete attack of four young men in Central Islip, to the childhood best friends brutally murdered by MS-13 in Brentwood, our community has witnessed the indiscriminate brutality of gang violence firsthand. Every level of government has a role to play in combating the rise of MS-13 and other gangs, and we must crack down on the aspects of our nation’s broken immigration system and other policies that have allowed MS-13 and other gangs to take hold in our communities and stay there. That is why I introduced this legislation to revoke the naturalization of those involved in gang activity prior to or within 10 years of becoming naturalized. United States naturalization is a privilege not a right, and those who have had this privilege bestowed upon them must respect and uphold the laws of our land."
As a representative of New York’s First Congressional District, which is located on Long Island, Zeldin has personally been witness to the impact of MS-13’s brutal violence on his community. The above-mentioned Islip attack in which three MS-13 members hacked four teenagers to death with machetes had such an impact that The New York Times wrote up a long piece explaining the circumstances and significance of the killings.
But the criminal activities of the gang extend far beyond one or two heinous incidents like those that Zeldin brought up. According to Newsday, Long Island police have identified more than a thousand MS-13 members living in their communities. This alarming information takes on a special significance given that, as a whole, MS-13 is not chiefly concerned with selling drugs or extorting small businesses to make money. Instead, the gang is primarily focused on murdering people either for entertainment or to shut out rival criminal organizations from its perceived territory. Because MS-13’s membership is mostly composed of teenage immigrants from El Salvador, Zeldin’s bill could make a genuine dent in their presence both in his district and throughout the United States.
While Zeldin’s proposal would be likely to face stiff resistance from civil libertarians if implemented, current U.S. law already allows the government to revoke naturalized immigrants’ citizenship for a variety of reasons. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s official website for its Citizenship and Immigration Services:
A person is subject to revocation of naturalization if the person becomes a member of, or affiliated with, the Communist party, other totalitarian party, or terrorist organization within five years of his or her naturalization. In general, a person who is involved with such organizations cannot establish the naturalization requirements of having an attachment to the Constitution and of being well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.
The fact that a person becomes involved with such an organization within five years after the date of naturalization is prima facie evidence that he or she concealed or willfully misrepresented material evidence that would have prevented the person’s naturalization.
It doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch to include members of a murderous gang alongside terrorist organizations and communists, does it?