A man who obtained citizenship more than a decade ago has become the first individual to lose it under President Donald Trump.
New Jersey resident Baljinder Singh, 43, who is originally from India, first arrived to the United States in 1991 but didn’t have with him documents that could prove his identity. He also went under the name Davinder Singh and was subsequently deported.
He eventually married an American citizen, who filed a visa petition for Singh, and in 2006 he was officially naturalized.
Yet Singh failed to disclose his prior immigration troubles from the 1990s when he applied for his visa through his marriage in 2004. He would have been found out, but a mistake by the U.S. government while processing his fingerprint check allowed him to be naturalized without issue.
In court this week, because of his omission — but apparently not because of any other acts of law-breaking, violence, or more egregious actions — Singh’s citizenship status was revoked, downgraded to “permanent resident” status, allowing the government to deport him if they wish.
“The defendant exploited our immigration system and unlawfully secured the ultimate immigration benefit of naturalization, which undermines both the nation’s security and our lawful immigration system,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.
However, Singh’s case appears to be quibbling over semantics more than anything else. His omission aside, it doesn’t appear he did much of anything else wrong — he obtained citizenship status through a legitimate marriage, and hasn’t done anything unlawful since.
That pales in comparison to a case from 2010 when another individual was revoked his citizenship status. Ibraheem Adeneye, originally from Nigeria, was similarly revoked of his citizenship after it was revealed he had produced fake marriage documents for himself. Adeneye was also producing fake marriage documents for other immigrants coming to the U.S. to help them attain citizenship.
The two examples are incomparable. Singh erred only in that he omitted past attempts to become a citizen. Were he to have acted in a criminal manner like Adeneye had, taking action to revoke his citizenship would be justified.
But Singh didn’t do anything wrong once he became a citizen. And his omission, although an improper move on his part, didn’t result in him committing any additional crimes while living in the U.S.
Consideration for Singh’s proper motives should have been given at his trial — he was married, legitimately so, and wanted to live in the country as a legal citizen. That seems to be the very kind of person we want emigrating to the U.S.