Aspiring Americans "Thrown Out in the Cold": The Discriminatory Use of "False Testimony" Allegations to Deny Naturalization


Omissions and mistakes are nearly impossible to avoid as one navigates the complex process of citizenship. But what happens when these mistakes are only held against a certain classes of people? A neutral requirement on its face becomes a powerful exclusionary tool as applied, and a guise for personal and institutional bias.

This article presents the results of an unprecedented study of cases appealing naturalization denials where the adjudicator found the applicant lied or omitted information during the course of the naturalization process, referred to as “false testimony.” The study uncovered that while the most recent targets of this tool are disproportionately those from Muslim-majority nations, these tactics were used against perceived communists, Eastern Europeans, and Irish and Italian immigrants in our recent past.

By uclalaw