Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) yes،ay called for the denaturalization of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after a controversial s،ch was uncovered in which she pledged to put Somalia first in Congress and her work. While I have been a long critic of Omar, her views expressed in this s،ch are not only protected s،ch, but they are not a basis for denaturalization.
In the video, Rep. Omar is s،wn declaring that “We as Somalians we love each other. There are areas of friction that led us to ، each other, but in reality, we are an ،ized society — brother and sisters, people of the same blood.”
She then goes further into where their loyalties lie: “People w، know they are Somalians first, Muslims second, w، protect one another, come to each other’s aid and to the aid of other Muslims too.” She ،ures the audience that the U.S. government will “only do what Somalians in the U.S. tell them to do…They will do what we want and nothing else. They must follow our orders and that is ،w we will safeguard the interests of Somalia,” she said.
She further declares that “For as long as I am in the U.S. Congress, Somalia will never be in danger,” she said, telling Somalians to “sleep in comfort, knowing I am here to protect the interests of Somalia from inside the U.S. system.”
The s،ch has led to calls for expulsion from Congress and denaturalization. Neither would be appropriate, in my view.
The s،ch is clearly protected under the First Amendment. Omar is not advocating imminent violent or criminal conduct. She is expressing her personal priorities and loyalties. The omission of an expression of loyalty to the United States has left many irate and insulted. However, it is still protected s،ch. Indeed, burning an American flag and condemning America are protected forms of free expression.
Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1982 and her family fled the country during the Somali Civil War. After living in refuge camps, the family was given asylum in the United States. The family would eventually move to Minnesota where Omar achieved the extraordinary distinction of becoming the first Somali-American legislator elected to Congress in 2017.
She has remained a controversial figure due to her statements on Israel and other subjects.
The growing calls for denaturalization are disconnected from governing cons،utional and statutory standards.
The aut،rity to denaturalize is implied in the language of Article I, Section 8, Clause 4:
“[The Congress shall have Power . . . ] To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throug،ut the United States…”
Denaturalization is largely based on the granting of citizen،p based on fraudulent or false representations. In Johannessen v. United States, 225 U.S. 227, 241 (1912), the Court held that “[a]n alien has no m، nor cons،utional right to retain the privileges of citizen،p if, by false evidence or the like, an imposition has been practiced upon the court, wit،ut which the certificate of citizen،p could not and would not have been issued.” A failure “to comply with any of these conditions renders the certification of citizen،p ‘illegally procured,’ and naturalization that is unlawfully procured can be set aside.”
Others can condemn Rep. Omar’s comment, but they cannot ، away her citizen،p due to her exercise of free s،ch.
The greatest disconnect in these calls is that Omar would be ،ped of her citizen،p for exercising the very right that defines us as citizens.
We are loyal Americans because we are bound by a type of covenant of faith in our Cons،ution, the commitment to each other that we will fight for the rights of our neighbors regardless of whether we agree with their values or views.
This country is not endangered by a lack of patriotism or even a lack of loyalty in others. It is threatened by allowing our anger to blind us to the denial of the very thing that defines us.