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Ted Cruz Wants Support for Terrorism to Result in the Automatic Loss of U.S. Citizenship
02/18/2017 Terrorism Seth L
keywords: Citizenship Loss

Many Congresspeople talk about national security and say they strongly support it, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has now re-introduced a bill to strip Americans of their U.S. citizenship if they're found to have materially supported or joined terrorist organizations. The Expatriate Terrorist Act or ETA (S. 247) is the latest version of legislation that would allow the government to revoke citizenship — via amending existing U.S. statute 8 U.S.C. § 1481 — of Americans who join or give aid to groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Hezbollah. In the Senate, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are cosponsors of the ETA. In the House, a similar bill, H.R. 1021, has been introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that's based on the process the government can use to strip a person's U.S. citizenship if they join a foreign army that's at war with the United States. 

"If an American citizen travels abroad and joins a terrorist group waging jihad on America, attempting to murder innocent Americans, this legislation would strip that individual of their U.S. citizenship, so that we would not have terrorists returning to America using U.S. passports," explained Cruz to the Washington Examiner. Although in the past, support for similar bills has faltered due to skepticism over granting the government powers to summarily cancel citizenship, Cruz noted that even former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supported such legislation when she was a senator. Just the same, Cruz's bill would offer a 60-day window for requesting a due process hearing in cases where the accused party wished to challenge the implementation of the law.

The fact of the matter is that hundreds of American citizens have joined ISIS, and at least 124 U.S. citizens or green card holders have taken trips to terrorist-controlled regions of the Middle East or Africa to join jihadist groups. "The Expatriate Terrorist Act will ensure that any American who forfeits their country to intentionally join ISIS will have their citizenship stripped and won’t be able to use a U.S. passport to come back and murder American citizens," commented Cruz. "This legislation is a common-sense step to recognize that people can [wage] war against America in more ways than one. You don’t need to be a member of a nation-state military to be a terrorist at war with America."

In a statement, the senator explained, "We know that Islamic radicalization is happening right here in the United States. Indeed, we’ve seen Americans like Anwar al-Awlaki, Faisal Shazad and most recently, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, engage in hostilities against our country and materially support terrorists who are waging war against us and our way of life. This is a threat that must be taken seriously."

One of the impetuses for both Cruz's and King's bills is that former President Obama granted citizenship to between 850 and 1,700 foreigners who likely did not merit it due to possible terrorist ties. Said Rep. King, "It seems that [850] number might be doubled even. I want to get into that and see what it takes to revoke that citizenship. Legally, we can revoke citizenship of almost anyone if they make the violations that are clear, and many of them, as I understand it, committed fraud to get the path to citizenship."

It should be noted that Australia has a near-identical law that's been in force since 2015, and the nations of Isreal, Britain, Norway and Belgium are in the process of adding similar laws to their books.

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