Operation Janus Results in First Denaturalization of a Naturalized Citizen

On January 9, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a U.S. District Court judge from the District of New Jersey entered an order canceling Baljinder Singh, an Indian national’s citizenship status reverting his status back to lawful permanent residence. The order comes stems from Operation Janus, an initiative spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which aims at locating ineligible individuals who were granted U.S. Citizenship who had incomplete fingerprint records. The court provided that the man was supposed to be deported, but was instead naturalized after the government erred on his fingerprint check.

Operation Janus has identified about 315,000 cases to date with fingerprint issues such as missing fingerprints. The DOJ reports that cases where fingerprints were missing in someone’s application could indicate these applicants were seeking “to circumvent criminal record and other background checks in the naturalization process.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans on referring 1,600 individuals for prosecution.

Baljinder Singh is the first naturalized citizen affected by Operation Janus. Singh arrived at San Francisco International Airport on September 25, 1911 without proof of identity. He was ordered to be deported, but managed to stay in the country eventually marrying a U.S. citizen through a different name, Davinder Singh. According to Chad Readler, the acting assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Civil Division, “The defendant exploited our immigration system and unlawfully secured the ultimate immigration benefit of naturalization, which undermines both the nation’s security and our lawful immigration system.”

Operation Janus only affects naturalized citizens not including native-born citizens. Naturalized citizens run the risk of being denaturalized and losing the rights that come with naturalization if they were naturalized through fraudulent pretenses.