MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four Minnesota residents could have their citizenship taken away by the federal government.
This all comes down to a program that made headlines last week: the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program.
President Donald Trump says the suspect in last week’s terror attack in New York City that killed eight people came to the United States via that program.
The president denounced the program, and now Minnesota is where they are cracking down.
The Somali community is a major part of the tapestry that is Minnesota. More Somali immigrants live here than any other state. And the U.S. Department of Justice says four of those residents could lose their citizenship.
They are filing a complaint to de-naturalize a man and woman who are divorced, and two other men who came over with them on diversity visas. They claim they lied about their names and about being a family.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, “The current immigration system is easily abused by fraudsters and nefarious actors, and that’s certainly true of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.”
Sandra Feist is a Minneapolis immigration attorney who is not working on this case.
“This is somewhat unusual, and the tone was also unusual, using language like ‘fraudsters’ and ‘nefarious actors,’ and attacking the Diversity Visa Program,” Feist said.
She has helped several clients immigrate using that program.
“It’s for 50,000 people, and it really is a very small program designed to encourage people from countries where we don’t have a lot of immigration to come to the United States,” Feist said.
She says applicants have to pass a background check and have an education or established career to qualify.
“I see this as a political stunt,” she said. “I see this as an effort to demonize immigration.”
The White House says they are cracking down on immigration to ensure safety.
It would be incredibly unusual if the DOJ does de-naturalize these Minnesotans, because it is rare in U.S. history that citizenship is taken away after being granted.