The US Justice Department is creating an office of attorneys with the sole purpose of stripping citizenship from immigrants who obtained it illegally by lying or omitting information on their applications.
The Justice Department said that the move to create the stand-alone team stems from the "growing number of referrals anticipated from law enforcement agencies."
This denaturalisation section will sue to strip US citizenship from "terrorists, war criminals, sex offenders, and other fraudsters," the department said. It will target individuals who have obtained citizenship "by concealment of a material fact or by wilful misrepresentation."
The law hasn’t changed. What they are doing is actively seeking these people out"
The new office will join the existing sections within the Civil Division's Office of Immigration Litigation — the District Court Section and the Appellate Section.
Currently, denaturalization cases require the government to show a federal court that a defendant's naturalization was "illegally procured" or "procured by concealment of a material fact or by wilful misrepresentation."
"It's hard to say if this will change anything. It shows that the [administration is] putting more resources into this, but not sure what the results will be," Adonia Simpson, the director of the family defence program at Americans for Immigrant Justice, a Florida nonprofit legal aid organization, told the Miami Herald.
"The law hasn't changed. What they are doing is actively seeking these people out."
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has also ramped up several efforts targeting so-called "sanctuary" cities and states that decline to cooperate with federal immigration officials looking to deport immigrants who have been arrested.
Creation of the new denaturalisation section was first reported by Buzzfeed News.