SANTA MARIA, Calif. --The Trump administration wants to strip U.S Citizenship away from certain immigrants. According to a new announcement by the Department of Justice, the government will up efforts to find people who lied on their application or who have committed a serious crime.
“[They will be] finding out whether the person lied, or if the person committed a crime that they didn't mention," said Susana Covarrubias, an immigration expert with La Hermandad Mexicana in Santa Maria.
In a press release, the DOJ said terrorists, war criminals, human rights violators, and sex offenders will be targeted.
Those who committed fraud could be at risk of losing their citizenship, too. That include cases of a parent lying when petitioning a foreign-born son or daughter.
“At the time of the petition the son or daughter had to be single, not married. But there are some cases that they were married at the time, and so those people might've lied to immigration, saying that they were single," said Covarrubias.
While these efforts target a specific group of immigrants, critics say this sends a message that naturalized citizens have fewer rights than those who were born in the United States.
“This to me is very concerning. It opens up to a critical gray area," said one naturalized citizen who was born in Tijuana, Mexico and asked to remain anonymous.
"I've been in the U.S for 20 years now."
While she says the Trump administration's efforts don't affect her directly, she does not agree with them.
Central Coast congressman, Salud Carbajal, denounced the new tactics, too. Carbajal was born in Mexico and applied for citizenship, too.
"The Trump administration's pursuit of denaturalization is an attack on the rights of U.S. citizens," he said in a statement. "If someone commits a crime, they should be held accountable and brought to justice, but creating tiered citizenship and stoking fear among naturalized citizens is unacceptable. Like millions of proud Americans, I am a naturalized citizen—not a second-class citizen and not someone whose citizenship can be stolen away."
However, other naturalized immigrants support the idea of removing criminals from the U.S
“The fact that President Trump is allocating more resources in order to make the United States a safer community should be admirable by all residents," said Andrey Chabanov, a naturalized citizen from Ukraine who grew up in Santa Barbara.
The Santa Barbara County Republican party issued a statement to our newsroom:
“We support President Trump's efforts to prioritize the removal of immigrants who have committed serious crimes and are a threat to public safety," party spokesman, Greg Gandrud, said.
The Obama administration pursued denaturalization cases, too.
However, cases have ramped up since 2017, according to stats from the Justice Department.