A new report from Slate is quite telling as to just how haphazardly the present administration puts together its policies. In short, one of the newest expressions of the Trump Administration’s stance on immigration could theoretically end up with Melania Trump deported.
A case recently came before the Supreme Court in which a Justice Department lawyer, Robert A. Parker, argued that a Serbian woman ought to have her citizenship revoked on the basis of a lie that she had told on her citizenship application.
The woman in question, Divna Maslenjak, is an ethnic Serb who said, according to the New York Times, that she faced persecution in Bosnia because her husband had avoided military conscription. On the basis of this claim, she was granted refugee status in 1999 and became an American citizen in 2007.
The problem is that, although the NYT writes that the claim about her husband was only part of the reason for her acceptance in America, that claim is not true. Her husband did, in fact, serve in the Bosnian military, having been part of a Bosnian Serb military unit that participated in war crimes.
On the basis of this revelation, Maslenjak and her husband had their citizenship status revoked and were recently deported to Serbia.
She, however, decided to fight back, arguing that the misstatement about her husband’s background that she had included on her citizenship paperwork was “immaterial” and should not weigh into the question of whether or not she and her husband are allowed to live in the United States.
Seeking to divine the position of government lawyers when Maslenjak’s case came before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Justices asked these lawyers some pointed questions — and got absolutely stunning answers.
According to the Trump Administration lawyers, any misstatement on naturalization paperwork, no matter how small or seemingly trivial, is enough to warrant the revocation of an individual’s citizenship.
As the NYT notes:
‘The form that people seeking American citizenship must complete… asks whether the applicant had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest.’
Of this, Chief Justice John Roberts asked:
‘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 underpinning for this question is Roberts’s revelation that he had broken speed limit rules some time ago and not been caught.
Remarkably, Robert A. Parker replied to Roberts that ultimately, yes, his citizenship could be revoked were he to have been naturalized and to have left the speeding incident off his paperwork.
Roberts replied to Parker’s assessment grimly, saying:
‘If you take the position that not answering about the speeding ticket is enough to subject that person to denaturalization, the government will have the opportunity to denaturalize anyone they want.’
Now, how does all of this relate to Melania Trump?
The first lady reportedly did paid modeling work while she was in the United States in the late 1990s on a Visitor Visa. In doing so, she violated the terms of that visa.
However, she does not appear to have disclosed this violation of the law on her naturalization paperwork.
An easily extrapolated application of the just expressed Trump Administration position on this issue is summed up well by Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley, who wrote: “[T]he Trump administration’s current position would… suggest she — the First Lady of the United States –is subject to deportation.”