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Sen. Cruz: Americans Who Join ISIS Or Other Terrorist Groups Should Have Their Citizenship Revoked

Introduces Expatriate Terrorist Act of 2017 to Prevent ISIS Attacks on Homeland

February 14, 2017

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202-228-7561

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act (ETA) of 2017, which would allow the U.S. government under certain circumstances to revoke the citizenship of Americans who knowingly join or provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Rep. Steve King, (R-Iowa), is sponsor of companion legislation in the U.S. House. The ETA would close a loophole that currently permits revocation for Americans who join foreign states, but not for those who join non-state terrorist groups. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) are Senate cosponsors of the ETA, which Sen. Cruz originally introduced in 2014. 

“We know that Islamic radicalization is happening right here in the United States. Indeed, we’ve seen Americans like Anwar al-Awlaki, Faisal Shazad, and most recently, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, engage in hostilities against our country, and materially support terrorists who are waging war against us and our way of life. This is a threat that must be taken seriously.” Sen. Cruz said. “The Expatriate Terrorist Act will ensure that any American who forfeits their country to intentionally join ISIS will have their citizenship stripped and won’t be able to use a U.S. passport to come back and murder American citizens. I’m glad to join with my House colleague, Rep. Steve King on this important effort and I hope that Congress will come together to pass this bill as we work to once and for all acknowledge the real threat of radical Islamic terror and take the steps necessary to keep our country safe.” 

“Over past years, many vulnerabilities to American security have emerged,” said King. “Some American citizens have sworn allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations (FTO’s), and that is why Senator Ted Cruz and I have re-introduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act.  Upon taking an oath to a FTO, American terrorists have voluntarily renounced their citizenship. Such individuals who commit acts of terror against the United States are demonstrating they no longer uphold their pledge to our country. Regardless of prior citizenship, by birth or naturalization, ETA will make it clear that if a national of the U.S. chooses to take an oath or pledge allegiance to a FTO, that individual has affirmatively renounced American citizenship and relinquished all protection under the law.” 

The ETA amends an existing statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1481 that details certain actions by which a United States citizen can renounce his or her citizenship. Under the ETA, § 1481 would be amended to include becoming a member of, fighting for, or providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. This update would reflect modern reality, where non-state actors and terrorist groups like ISIS are actively seeking to recruit Americans. The bill also grants the authority for the Secretary of State to deny or revoke passports to anyone who is a member, or attempting to become a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization. Provided the requirements of due process are observed, if a United States citizen undertakes these acts with the intent of supplanting his United States citizenship with loyalty to a terrorist organization, that person can be deemed to have forfeited his or her right to be a United States citizen and return to the United States.

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