Maryland residents have no doubt heard that some aspects of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies have been criticized by both the public and the courts. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts joined this chorus of discontent on April 26 when he took issue with the treatment of a woman of Serbian descent who was deported over untrue statements she made almost two decades ago.
The woman’s U.S. citizenship was stripped when officials learned that she had lied about her husband’s activities following the fall of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Chief Justice Roberts accused the Justice Department lawyers involved of inviting prosecutorial abuse and said that allowing citizenship to be revoked over trivial lies told years earlier would set a worrying precedent. According to Roberts, the virtually unlimited power of the federal government makes the case particularly concerning.
Other justices were even more vocal in their condemnation of the Justice Department’s actions. Justice Stephen Breyer said that the government was acting in a way that would place the status of most of America’s 20 million naturalized citizens in doubt, and Justice Kennedy said that the priceless value of U.S. citizenship was being demeaned. The government attorneys elicited these comments when they argued that it did not matter that the lies the woman told had no impact on the decision to admit her and her family into the United States.
Individuals or families hoping to live in the United States legally sometimes fear that the system has been set up to stop them, and reading about cases like this one may heighten these fears. Attorneys with experience in this area may be able to address these concerns by explaining the steps involved in obtaining a work visa or green card and the pitfalls to avoid. Attorneys could also advocate vigorously on behalf of naturalized U.S. citizens who may have been treated harshly by the authorities.