Earlier this year, I wrote about the Maslenjak case. During oral arguments, the justices seemed extremely skeptical regarding the government’s position that ANY misrepresentation could lead to an individual being stripped of citizenship. The justices — in a 9-0 smackdown — decided that the lie “must have somehow contributed to the obtaining of citizenship.” The justices acknowledged that sometimes folks tell minor falsehoods out of “embarrassment, fear, or a desire for privacy.” The Supreme Court left it to the lower courts to craft rules regarding the effects of lies in the naturalization process, but opined that adopting the government’s rule would give “prosecutors nearly limitless leverage — and afford newly naturalized Americans precious little security.”
In Lee v. United States, the Supreme Court overturned a conviction for an individual facing deportation. Jae Lee, who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, was told by his criminal defense attorney that accepting a plea deal would not jeopardize his lawful permanent resident status. Lee discovered that his attorney was “dead wrong” when the government immediately began removal proceedings. This does not mean that Lee is in the clear: he will need to either negotiate a new plea deal, or go to trial.