If you are a fraudulently naturalized citizen, watch out. The United States is coming for you.
On Tuesday, the United States filed three denaturalization complaints in the states of Florida, Connecticut, and New Jersey against three men who became naturalized citizens by capitalizing on flaws in the U.S. immigration system. The three men, two from Pakistan and one from India, have resided in the United States for years.
Upon their arrival to the states through international airports, the men did not possess the proper documentation to allow them to enter and stay in the country. All three did not attend their immigration hearings and faced deportation if they were found. Eventually, the three would become naturalized citizens but under different names to try to avoid detection.
All three men married U.S. citizens to become permanent residents as they waited to be naturalized. When a foreign-born individual becomes naturalized, they then have all the rights and opportunities guaranteed to American-born citizens, except the opportunity to become president. A naturalized citizen can vote, exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, etc.
Parvez Manzoor Khan, from Pakistan, tried to enter the United States as Mohammad Akhtar, but immigration officials noted that his passport had been altered. Years later, after dodging deportation, Khan married a U.S. citizen and was able to stay as a permanent resident. He became a naturalized citizen in 2006.
Rashid Mahmood, also from Pakistan, tried to enter the country with a "fraudulent U.S. temporary resident card." After marrying a U.S. citizen, he changed his surname as he sought to change his status. His wife even filed a petition for him. When he became naturalized in 2005, he also neglected to tell officials he was part of the Pakistan People's Party.
The last man, Baljinder Singh from India, moved quickly to gain permanent status in the United States. Just four weeks after skipping his immigration hearing, he had the guts to file for asylum under a different name. Singh married a U.S. citizen fast enough to stop that application process. He became a naturalized citizen in 2006.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department's Civil Division said:
“The Justice Department is committed to preserving the integrity of our nation’s immigration system, and in particular, the asylum and naturalization processes. The civil complaints charge that defendants in these cases exploited our immigration system and unlawfully secured the ultimate immigration benefit of naturalization. The filing of these cases sends a clear message to immigration fraudsters – if you break our immigration laws, we will prosecute you and denaturalize you.”
The press release from the Department of Justice stated that the Department of Homeland Security found these individuals through Operation Janus. Operation Janus "identified about 315,000 cases where some fingerprint data was missing from the centralized digital fingerprint repository. Among those cases, some may have sought to circumvent criminal record and other background checks in the naturalization process."
While these are the only three cases found so far, it would not come as a surprise if there were more instances among the 314,997 remaining cases. These cases show that the United States's immigration system still needs some work. These men were wrongly able to have the same rights as American-born individuals and other legally naturalized citizens for over a decade. It is a good thing to have a president and administration that are looking to improve that system.
Read the DOJ's press release here.