The Trump administration’s hardline stance in a Supreme Court case involving a Serbian woman who was recently deported for misrepresentation in her application for U.S. citizenship provides a clear precedent for the deportation of First Lady Melania Trump and revocation of her citizenship, analysts have claimed.
The Trump administration revoked the citizenship of a Serbian woman and deported her after officials discovered that she failed to disclose in immigration paperwork filed a decade ago that her husband had served with a Bosnian Serb military unit, according to the New York Times.
Melania Trump, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press (AP), also failed to disclose her earnings while she worked illegally as a model in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa. Melania violated her terms of entry into the U.S. on a tourist visa by working without a valid permit.
When she applied for a green card in 2001 and citizenship in 2006, she failed to disclose to immigration authorities that she earned more than $20,000 working as a model months before she obtained legal permission to work in the country, the Independent reported.
Justice Department lawyers argued in Supreme Court case Maslenjak v. United States, that revocation of Divna Maslenjak’s citizenship and her deportation back to her native Serbia was justified because she was guilty of misrepresentation when she failed to disclose her husband’s history of military service. The lawyers argued that any inaccuracy or misrepresentation in immigration paperwork with regard to even trivial or “immaterial” issues could justify revoking a person’s citizenship.
Maslenjak, an ethnic Serb, had failed to disclose her husband’s service with a Bosnian Serb military unit while applying for U.S. citizenship in 2007. The Serbian woman arrived in the U.S. from Bosnia in 1999 and was granted refugee status. She lied in her immigration paperwork that she and her husband never served in the military and that she feared for the safety of her family after her husband tried to avoid conscription by the Bosnian Serb army. But after immigration officials found that she had given false information, she was charged with obtaining citizenship illegally and convicted. Her citizenship was promptly revoked and she was deported back to Serbia.
Maslenjak’s lawyers had tried to defend her by arguing that her misrepresentation was immaterial, but Trump administration lawyers held that any misrepresentation, significant or insignificant, trivial or “immaterial,” was sufficient to justify revoking citizenship.
Trump administration's hardline immigration stance in Supreme Court case could see Melania deported https://t.co/KpLFCadmHc
— The Independent (@Independent) April 28, 2017
According to the New York Times, Supreme Court Justices, including the conservative U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., were appalled when Trump administration lawyers argued that a citizen could have their citizenship status revoked years after it had been granted on account of minor or immaterial errors in immigration paperwork.
Analysts quickly pointed out that the position taken by Trump administration lawyers that even “immaterial” errors in immigration paperwork could justify revoking citizenship and deporting a foreign national sets a clear precedent for immediately deporting Melania Trump.
In 1996, the Slovenian model Melania Knauss worked illegally in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa for nearly two months, earning more than $20,000 before she obtained legal permission to work in the country. She failed to disclose the offense on her immigration paperwork. But analysts noted that Melania is unlikely to face deportation despite a new directive by the Trump administration that immigration officials should prioritize the deportation of foreign nationals who “engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a government agency.”
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. tried to test the limits of the assertion that government could revoke people’s citizenship decades after it was granted due to trivial or immaterial errors in their paperwork.
“Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone,” the chief justice said, according to the New York Times.
“If I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, ‘Guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all?'”
THE NEW YORK TIMES: Supreme Court justices alarmed by the government’s hard-line stance in U.S. citizenship case https://t.co/AnPjdutToy
— TBR Feed (@TheBFRoom) April 27, 2017
“If we can prove that you deliberately lied in answering that question, then yes,” Parker answered.
Chief Justice Roberts appeared shocked by Parker’s assertion.
“Oh, come on,” he said in disbelief.
The New York Times then noted that based on the Trump administration’s hardline position, Melania, a native of Slovenia, who naturalized in 2006, could also be deported because she failed to provide information about her illegal earnings while staying in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa.
“Trump administration’s current position would thus suggest her— the First Lady of the United States—is subject to deportation.”
Chief Justice Roberts was not the only Supreme Court Justice who was shocked by Parker’s assertion. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy dismissed the argument outright.
“Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship,” Justice Kennedy said.
“You’re arguing for the government of the United States, talking about what citizenship is and ought to mean.”
Justice Elena Kagan said she was shocked to learn that “every time I lie about my weight it has those kinds of consequences.”
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]