May 7, 2010

Accidentally Lose Your U.S. Citizenship

Senators Leiberman (I-CT) and Brown (R-MA) has introduced a bill called the Terrorist Expatriation Act. It's a fairly short and simple proposal to amend 8 U.S.C. 1481 with text that allows for the revocation of U.S. nationality (either through birth or naturalization) for, in short, doing one of two things (paraphrased):

  1. purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the U.S. or a U.S. ally that is currently providing support in a situation of U.S. hostilities

  2. providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization

In my opinion, these two items aren't too controversial when viewed as a general goal. In one sense, they are either expanding upon or clarifying the definition of treason. Which is already listed as a reason your citizenship can be revoked.

However, I take issue with the second statement because it does not including purposefully. It would be quite easy to mistakenly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Maybe you happened to write a big check to a door-to-door solicitor.

I also take issue with the proposed bill as a whole because it allows for revocation of your citizenship without being convicted of anything. The current law only allows for revocation of your citizenship because you have asked for it, or if you haven't then you can challenge it, or if you are convicted of treason (at which point citizenship is fairly moot). But the new section (8 U.S.C. 1481.a.8) that would be added by this bill doesn't require any due process.

Lastly, it's pretty unclear what might qualify as material support or resources. A public protest could easily fall within that generalization. I can also see courts, if any were involved, tied up for months debating whether or not someone acted purposefully.

For all the senators who have made public statements about needing to review the bill before being sure (I'm looking at you, Nancy Pelosi) it takes about 5 minutes. Take a copy into the bathroom.

Posted by josuah at May 7, 2010 6:00 PM UTC+00:00

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