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SCOTUS: Unanimous Ruling Protects Immigrants Who Lie

Author: Jeff Powers
Created: 22 June, 2017
Updated: 21 November, 2022
1 min read

The Supreme Court unanimously decided in Maslenjak v. US to limit the government's ability to remove U.S. citizenship from immigrants who lie during the naturalization process.

The justices ruled in favor of an ethnic Serb from Bosnia who lied about her husband's military service.

Divna Maslenjak and her family were granted refugee status in 1999 and settled in Ohio in 2000. Maslenjak became a citizen in 2007. She initially lied to immigration officials that her husband did not serve in the Bosnian military. She later admitted that was a lie.

The lower courts held a criminal conviction against her. The conviction automatically revoked her citizenship, and she and her husband were deported in October.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote that false statements can lead to the revocation of citizenship only if they "played some role in her naturalization." The court rejected the position that minor lies can lead to loss of citizenship.

Maslenjak was convicted by a jury that was told even an inconsequential lie was enough for a guilty verdict.

Photo Credit: J Main / shutterstock.com