ArtI.S8.C4.1.5.3 Limits to Congress's Denaturalization Power

Article I, Section 8, Clause 4:

[The Congress shall have Power . . . ] To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States; . . .

Despite Congress’s broad power over denaturalization, the Supreme Court has recognized certain limitations to this power, particularly with respect to the evidentiary requirements to sustain a person’s denaturalization such as the burden of proving that citizenship was unlawfully obtained, and the standard that governs whether a person seeking citizenship concealed a material fact relating to his or her eligibility for citizenship.1 In imposing these limitations, the Court has recognized the “value and importance” of citizenship, and declared that the consequences of denaturalization are “more serious than a taking of one’s property, or the imposition of a fine or other penalty.” 2 Thus, according to the Court, “such a right once conferred should not be taken away without the clearest sort of justification and proof.” 3

Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759, 772 (1988); Chaunt v. United States, 364 U.S. 350, 355 (1960); Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118, 122–25 (1943). For more discussion about the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence concerning the evidentiary requirements and standard for proving unlawful procurement of citizenship, see ArtI.S8.C4.1.5.4 Unlawful Procurement of Citizenship and ArtI.S8.C4.1.5.5 Concealing Material Facts When Procuring Citizenship. back
Schneiderman, 320 U.S. at 122; see also Chaunt, 364 U.S. at 353 ( “[I]n view of the grave consequences to the citizen, naturalization decrees are not lightly to be set aside . . . .” ); Klapprott v. United States, 335 U.S. 601, 611 (1949) ( “Denaturalization consequences may be more grave than consequences that flow from conviction for crimes.” ); Knauer v. United States, 328 U.S. 654, 659 (1946) ( “For denaturalization, like deportation, may result in the loss ‘of all that makes life worth living.’” ) (quoting Ng Fung Ho v. White, 259 U.S. 276, 284 (1922)). back
Schneiderman, 320 U.S. at 122. back