Belief in radical Islamic ideology could be grounds to deport immigrants, even after they've naturalized, a provocative report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) says.
The report, National Security Threats Should Be Denaturalized, comes from "a retired government employee with many years of experience in immigration administration, law enforcement, and national security matters" who writes under a pseudonym.
People already can be blocked from naturalization for affiliating with totalitarian groups, or engaging in or advocating violence to overthrow the U.S. government. The report argues that the totalitarian prohibition can apply to adherents of radical Islam.
"Why totalitarianism? Because under radical strains of Islam, such as Salafism, it is impossible to reconcile separation of church and state," the report says. "All civil authority bows to the wisdom of religious clerics in a theocracy. The best existing example (if one can use that descriptor loosely) of such a theocracy in action is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The worst example in recent memory is the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan. Can one doubt that both examples point clearly to a totalitarian form of government in which no form of peaceful dissension or religious liberty is tolerated? In fact, dissension and religious differences are dealt with brutally."
Under the proposal, someone could be barred from becoming a citizen if he or she is a follower of radical Islam to the extent that Islam and sharia law should supersede secular law and liberty in the United States. And citizenship can be stripped if it later is determined the person failed to disclose those beliefs.
The report describes the two existing provisions for denaturalizing citizens under such circumstances. But there has been little focus or interest among federal authorities to aggressively pursue such cases, even when the offenders have been convicted of serious national security crimes.
The CIS report identifies 51 cases since 2003 involving naturalized citizens who were charged with and/or convicted of national security related violations. Of them, 34 (66 percent) were from Islamic countries or otherwise identified as being involved in an Islamist security threat violation case.
Denaturalized people revert to their prior immigration status, usually a permanent resident alien. But resident aliens convicted of certain crimes, particularly national security crimes, are subject to deportation. Even absent a criminal conviction, permanent residents can be deported if they obtained that status through fraud or misrepresentation.
This CIS report raises noteworthy issues that have lingered for nearly a decade. And while federal authorities appear to be lethargic in the pursuit of even national security denaturalization cases, there have been some successes such as Fawaz Damra and Abdurahman M. Alamoudi. Even the notorious criminal case against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami Al-Arian began as a naturalization fraud investigation.
But a handful of victories in a sea of ignored cases is not really success. There is much room for improvement and, ironically, improvement may not even require legislative change but no more than shift in focus and willingness by executive branch agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting the violations. This matter appears ripe for congressional inquiry. The CIS report has opened that door.