May a naturalized American citizen be stripped of her citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement?1
Maslenjaks’ told immigration officials that their family would be persecuted by the Serbs, and that her husband feared that he would be conscripted into the Serbian army. At the time, however, he was actually a member of the Serbian army. They were granted refugee status and came to the United States in 2000.
Shortly after, Mr. Maslenjak was removed when it was discovered that he was actually in the Serbian army, which was involved in the genocide of Bosnian Muslim civilians.
Then, Mrs. Maslenjak applied for US citizenship, representing that she had never supplied any false or misleading information to gain an immigration benefit. She was granted citizenship in 2007 but was indicted under 8 U.S.C. § 1425(a), which makes it a crime for her to “knowingly procures or attempts to procure, contrary to any law, the naturalization of any person.”
This case arises out of a circuit split. The 6th Circuit below held that a citizen can be stripped based on an immaterial statement. The 1st, 4th, 7th and 9th Circuits held that they cannot.