Two arch-conservatives unveiled legislation on Friday to revoke the U.S. citizenship of anyone who seeks to join a group designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Expatriate Terrorist Act, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), amends the Immigration and Nationality Act so as to deny an American passport to — or strip the existing citizenship of — an individual
whom the Secretary has determined is a member, or is attempting to become a member, of an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist pursuant to section 12 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 13 U.S.C. 1189).
“I believe these American terrorists have voluntarily renounced their citizenship upon taking an oath to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO),” King said in a statement.
In a sign that the legislation has legs in Congress, it is co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Judiciary Committee, which oversees immigration policy.
Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer based in Tennessee, said it’s “not easy” to lose one’s citizenship but the Immigration and Nationality Act already “has a list of what are called expatriating acts that you can sometimes lose your citizenship for. For instance, being an officer in a foreign army … or treason.”
“I was kind of surprised that serving in a terrorist organization is not already on there,” he said. “Under current rules I don’t think there’s anything you can do to strip them of their citizenship.”