Author:Ralph A. Rossum

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American CITIZENSHIP can be lost in two ways: denaturalization and EXPATRIATION. Denaturalization is the official cancellation, for cause, of a certificate of naturalization. It can be employed only against a person who has secured his citizenship by NATURALIZATION. Once denaturalized, a person is again an ALIEN in the eyes of the law; unlike the expatriate, he is considered never to have been a citizen. As an alien, the denaturalized former citizen is vulnerable to DEPORTATION and, in the case of a denaturalized criminal, to extradition.

Denaturalization, like naturalization, is governed by statute?currently, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Congress derives the implied power to denaturalize from its express power set forth in Article I, section 8, to "establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization." Congress has provided for denaturalization when a person's citizenship has been "illegally procured" or "procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation."

Denaturalization has been employed against naturalized citizens because of their membership in communist, Nazi, or other organizations espousing doctrines deemed antithetical to American allegiance. In such cases, the ground for denaturalization is that citizenship has been illegally procured because the applicant failed to comply with the statutory condition that he be attached to the principles of the American Constitution for the five years immediately preceding his naturalization. Also under the act, membership in such an organization within five years of naturalization is "prima facie evidence" of a lack of attachment prior to naturalization.

Denaturalization has also been employed against criminals

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and racketeers (thereby rendering them subject to deportation), on the ground that they obtained their American citizenship by lying about their criminal past. In such a case, even though the courts have held that denaturalization proceedings are suits in EQUITY and are governed by the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, the government must prove that the naturalized citizen lied about his criminal past, and thus, in effect, must prove the crime. The Supreme Court has stated, however, that the government need not meet the usual standard of proof for criminal guilt, as the defendant is subject not to penal sanctions but only to denaturalization.

Recently denaturalization suits have also been brought against Nazi war...

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