AILA Conference 2020 Day 3 Session 1: Denaturalization & the Matter of Singh

2020 AILA Conference: Day 3, Session 1: Denaturalization and the Matter of Singh

Categories: Resources
Published: July 27, 2020

Tags: AILA

2020 AILA Conference Denaturalization Summary:

In this video, Attorney Joseph Tsang examines the precedent that could be set for denaturalization because of the Matter of Singh case ruling. He shares why he believes it could be dangerous and affected anyone who has been naturalized. Watch now to learn more about what this could mean for your green card

Learn more by watching the full video.

Full Video Transcript

[Tsang Intro Splash]

All right, we are here at day three of AILA’s 2020 conference. This is the first time AILA University is providing these conferences virtually online. I’m watching these videos and then I’m taking the things that I found most helpful and sharing them with you.

Now, as a quick disclaimer, these are my opinions. Even though I am an AILA member, the opinions expressed in this video cannot be contributed to the AILA organization as a whole, nor can they be contributed to the speakers themselves. These are what I took out of the video and what I’m sharing based on what I thought they said. You can totally download the entire video and watch it from AILA University yourself and fact check what I’m saying.

[0:37] Now, today’s track is all related to removal proceedings and litigation. It is the hottest trend in immigration right now because the [Trump] administration has been strongly opposed to anything immigration-related. So the only way to challenge it is through the courts. There are a lot of good topics here, and I can’t wait to get started.

Welcome to day three, session one: hot topics in removal. Now, another name for this session could be denaturalization because that’s entirely what I’m going to be focusing on. There are a lot of topics that they covered. The original speakers over here [Keli M. Reynolds, Helen Parsonage, Michael S. Vastine, Ben Winograd] were invited from AILA University, and they were outstanding. You can totally download it from AILA University.

[1:14] Now, one of the most important aspects of this is the case regarding Matter of Singh. This is a denaturalization case. Now, all of you know that denaturalization has been on the rise and is probably going to continue to rise. Ever since the Obama administration years and years and years ago, they’ve been really heavily focused on these aspects because a lot of people have gotten their naturalization certificate or have been naturalized falsely, and for whatever reason, they’re looking into it. And then President Trump and his administration have doubled down on the efforts. And this particular case that happened last year, Matter of Singh, really puts it in focus. And this should be something that everybody is really concerned about. And when we’re talking about denaturalization, we’re also talking about deportation without judicial review. That should be super scary to anybody who cares about freedom and justice.

So, the case in question is Matter of Singh. This guy got his green card lawfully, and right before he gets his citizenship, for whatever reason, he decided it might be better just to bribe the officer and skip the process and get his naturalization certificate. Of course, he was found out, and then he was deported. And then during the court proceedings, during the immigration court, not the actual judicial court, but in the immigration court, it is to be determined whether or not he can be deported without a court hearing. And the answer is yes. You can be deported just like an enemy of state, a foreigner. You have no rights of a U.S. citizen. Why? Because you cheated your way to get the naturalization certificate. You didn’t go through the normal process. And so your case is now denied. And just for the record, I completely agree with the decision. It makes perfect sense. If a person is not a naturalized U.S. citizen, if they cheated somehow towards the very end or towards the process or misrepresented somehow some way, then why should they be afforded the luxury of our courts and waste our resources in combating these issues?

[3:17] But here’s the kicker. If this gets extended too far, it could pose a challenge to many people’s rights and liberties. Because now, this sets a precedent for the agency to look back on your file. And if they can find one or a few things wrong with the original application somewhere along the line, then they can legitimately denaturalize you, deport you, and you are not afforded the rights of the judicial system to protect you. Now, this fear is not entirely unfounded. As an immigration attorney, I see this happen all the time. Not necessarily with the naturalization cases or people who are citizens already, but they do this for everything else. For example, our clients who are on L1 visas, they come here, they’re an executive, they build up a company, they hire tons of workers, and on their second extension, on their third extension, when they’ve already been in the U.S. for five years, the government can go back and say, “Hey, remember that tourist application you filled out like seven years ago? In there, you said you went to this college, but on your resume, on your L1 application, it says you went to this particular college.” Not to mention that people actually transfer colleges, but the fact that there’s a discrepancy, “Hey, I’m gonna cancel your visa now.” Or let’s say a green card. You already secured your permanent green card, thank goodness. And then a couple years later, you receive a notice of intent to revoke your green card because during the interview, you said a few things that were off. And they double-checked your record and it seems to be wrong. And so now you’re canceling your green card, and then they’re forcing you to reapply and re-interview, and that could be a huge nightmare. And so the agency does that to the non-immigrants, to the aliens, to the green card holders, to the temporary green card holders, and permanent green card holders. And we’re beginning to see them do that to the citizens. When will they do it to you?

[5:05] Unfortunately, this really reminds me of what I learned in history class when the Nazis first went after the disabled, then the homosexual, and then eventually the Jews. No authoritarian strips away liberty at once, cold turkey, all people, same time. But if this is how it happens, a little bit and a little bit, it gets chipped away. And when this happens to everybody else, when it happens to you suddenly, when you cry out for help, there’s nobody to help you because everybody is already gone. The way to fight this is if we can all band together and fight it right at its bud, and this is the beginning. But to reiterate again, I agree with this decision. It makes perfect sense. And in this particular scenario where the guy cheated to get his naturalization certificate, yes, I understand they don’t deserve a right in our courts. But the logic may extend further. And if it gets out of line, we do need to hold the government accountable.

[5:59] Luckily, there is a case law in our favor, Matter of Falodun, where it is held that if you’ve gone through the entire naturalization process lawfully, USCIS, the government, cannot just administratively cancel your citizenship. If they want to do that, they have to take you through court. But again, that is disheartening, isn’t it? Why should that even be a case? Why should there even be a matter? Why should this even be a thought? How can you just cancel somebody’s citizenship without proper notice and taking them to court? It’s absolutely insane. And what this tells me is that the agency has done it to other people. They have tried to do it and have been stopped. But now they have a victory in doing it, and this weed, this precedent may grow. And anybody who has any interest in justice and liberty really needs to keep an eye on this thing.

[6:43] Alright. Let’s go back to the Matter of Singh because there’s a detail I want you to know. The person got his green card lawfully. They waited the requisite number of years, maybe it’s three years, maybe it’s five years, before applying for citizenship. And then after applying, he tried to get the citizenship, but for some reason couldn’t make it through the English and the civics test. Now, if any of you know the English and civics test, you can look it up. It’s not that hard, a couple of basic questions, nothing that a seventh-grader spending three hours can’t memorize and can’t pass. But for whatever reason, it showed that he didn’t pass those. Now, is it because of laziness? Is it because he was disabled and he couldn’t pass it and he couldn’t get a doctor to give him a waiver? Now, is it because he didn’t hire the right attorney to train him? Or is it because he just didn’t have enough time and he was too lazy and this was an easy option, so he paid the officer? And we don’t know how much he paid. Could be a couple thousand dollars, it could be a couple hundred dollars. But the point being, yes, he did cheat, but he cheated on something that’s super minor in the process. So for anybody who knows the naturalization process, if the only thing that was stopping him was learning English a little better or to memorize some flashcards, he totally could have gotten it, and an easy option was presented to him. Maybe this officer fraudulently said, “Hey, give me a couple hundred bucks, and I could get you a certificate.” And being a reasonable, calculated person, he did it that way. And now his naturalization certificate got voided, he is denaturalized, and he’s getting deported out of the country. And yes, that is all fair and just, but you really have to look at the circumstance.

[8:19] What happened to this man could reasonably happen to anybody along the way. If the government takes this precedent and looks at the entire case file of every single naturalized U.S. citizen in this country, they may find a flaw somewhere in that case file. And the government can apply this precedent into the entire case file of every naturalized U.S. citizen in this country. And chances are, if you scrutinize an application closely enough, you will find something that’s wrong. Maybe it’s in the original visa application when they enter the country. Maybe it’s in the resume. Maybe it’s in the joint affidavit. Maybe it’s in the sponsor. The point is, it’s a very, very long process, and there are lots of opportunities for mistakes. And if those mistakes are real and it somehow affects the case, then now the government has a right to revoke your citizenship.

[9:13] I will not be surprised if we see more and more of this. And I’m very, very thankful that AILA University has assembled the panel that discussed this topic and brought this to our attention. And I just spent a little bit longer than they did to shout out how important this is on the threat of our civil liberties. If anybody has any other comments, please feel free to let us know. Let ACLU know. Let anybody who cares about this know, because this is too important of a matter to ignore. Our freedom is at stake.

And that wraps up today’s session. If you have any questions, please let me know, and have a great rest of the conference.

[9:49] Besides this video, we’re also very active on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and we’re trying to put out content that’s appropriate to those mediums. Now, if you like this video, you might like some of the things that we’re posting on there as well. Feel free to engage with us there. Now, after today’s session, we’re also doing one more session tomorrow and it’s a really big session because we’re going to hear from the big leaders and what they have to say. And then after this series is done, the AILA conference, I’m going to go through and teach immigration law and go through every single nuance that you would, you might want to learn. So if you like this kind of stuff, feel free to like and subscribe below. I’d love to engage with you.

Thank you. Bye-bye.