President Donald Trump’s march toward authoritarianism through interference with the Department of Justice continued on Wednesday with the creation of a section dedicated to stripping citizenship from Americans.

It’s a slippery slope that could result in people being stripped of citizenship for any reason. But for now, Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr are happy to persecute immigrants first even if those immigrants have become United States citizens and have all the constitutional rights and protections that come with citizenship.

According to the Department of Justice press release:

The Department of Justice today announced the creation of a section dedicated to investigating and litigating revocation of naturalization. The Denaturalization Section will join the existing sections within the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation—the District Court Section and the Appellate Section. This move underscores the Department’s commitment to bring justice to terrorists, war criminals, sex offenders, and other fraudsters who illegally obtained naturalization.

“When a terrorist or sex offender becomes a U.S. citizen under false pretenses, it is an affront to our system—and it is especially offensive to those who fall victim to these criminals,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said in a statement. “The Denaturalization Section will further the Department’s efforts to pursue those who unlawfully obtained citizenship status and ensure that they are held accountable for their fraudulent conduct.”

That may seem all good and well, but the problem is that this is the kind of power that can be easily abused to target those Trump considers his enemies. He’s already purging the government and installing loyalists, and it’s clear that he is trying to take over the entire DOJ. Federal prosecutors could be directed to charge someone with a crime on trumped-up charges and then the DOJ would strip citizenship from them. Obviously, Trump and Barr are just going to target immigrants at first, but even that’s unacceptable as activist Joel Braunold horrifyingly pointed out.

Even the Cato Institute condemned the announcement and called denaturalization unconstitutional.

“Denaturalization is unconstitutional. The Constitution says anyone the government naturalizes is a U.S. citizen and has equal rights as all other citizens,” immigration policy expert David Bier stated. “US-born citizens cannot have their citizenship revoked, so neither should naturalized citizens. Bottom line is that if you can ever lose your citizenship for any reason, you don’t have equal rights and aren’t a real citizen.”

And if immigrants can lose their citizenship for any reason, it won’t be too long before natural-born citizens can lose it, too.

Make no mistake, Trump is targeting immigrants for now because he’s trying to normalize this kind of tactic. Once normalized, he will then target everyone else, taking particular aim at anyone who questions or criticizes him. By then, it will be too late for Americans to react to stop it because those who do act could be charged with a crime and stripped of their own citizenship.


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