Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 17.28 5. False Claim to U.S. Citizenship

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Any noncitizen who falsely represents him- or herself to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under immigration laws or any state or federal law.[181]  This specifically includes making a false claim of United States citizenship for purposes of employment.[182]  Falsely claiming citizenship is also a federal crime, punishable by up to three years imprisonment.[183]


A false claim to United States citizenship must be exactly that to trigger this ground of deportation. Answering “Yes” to the question, “Were you born in the U.S.?” is not the equivalent of making a false claim to United States citizenship.  Birthplace is not the same as citizenship.  For example, a person could be born in the United States and subsequently renounce citizenship or be expatriated.  A child of a diplomat can be born in the United States, yet not be a citizen of the United States.[184]  Fraud committed by a parent should not be imputed to a minor child.[185]

[181] INA § 237(a)(3)(D)(i), 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(3)(D)(i).

[182] Id.  See also INA § 274A, 8 U.S.C. § 1324a.

[183] 18 U.S.C. § 911.  See § 17.28(C), infra.

[184] Thanks to Barbara Hines.

[185] Singh v. Gonzales, 451 F.3d 400 (6th Cir. 2006) (any fraud committed by a third party could not be imputed to a minor).