Cruz, King propose legislation to revoke citizenship of those joining terrorists

The summit, which Ed is covering live, is breaking all sorts of news. One interesting item to come out this weekend is a new proposal from Steve King in the House and Ted Cruz in the Senate which would strip the US citizenship of any persons who sign on to fight with ISIS or other terrorist groups.

Two arch-conservatives unveiled legislation on Friday to revoke the U.S. citizenship of anyone who seeks to join a group designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Expatriate Terrorist Act, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), amends the Immigration and Nationality Act so as to deny an American passport to — or strip the existing citizenship of — an individual

The language is fairly straight forward. It’s also going to draw a lot of support in both chambers, particularly given the national attention being paid to domestic terrorists and the threat they pose.

“I believe these American terrorists have voluntarily renounced their citizenship upon taking an oath to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO),” King said in a statement.

In a sign that the legislation has legs in Congress, it is co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Judiciary Committee, which oversees immigration policy.

Any move like this will be controversial only to the extent that concerns will arise as to who will define which people cross the line and can then have their citizenship and fundamental rights stripped away. Will a domestic mass shooting qualify? Perhaps the Fort Hood attack could, but what about the theater shooting in Aurora? Is that an “act of terror” against the nation or just a massive, horrific crime conducted by a citizen? Would the Boston Marathon bomber qualify? There seem to be some gray areas here, since meeting the definition goes more to the intent of the suspect than the actual actions.

A teenage girl in Colorado was just sentenced to four years for trying to join ISIS. I assume this would apply to her.

But the Immigration and Nationality Act already allows for such action if the suspect commits expatriating acts which include becoming an officer in a foreign military or conducting acts of terrorism against the United States. That’s rather broad in terms of the legislative text, but the intent should be clear to the layman. It seems like something that could be done, but it will no doubt be challenged in the courts as soon as they can find someone with standing to take it up the line.