Today Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) and Congressmen Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) announced proposed legislation that would authorize the State Department to revoke the citizenship of a U.S. national who provides material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization, or who engages in or supports hostilities against the United States or its allies.
The proposed legislation, called the Terrorist Expatriation Act or TEA Act, is a significant expansion of 8 U.S.C. 1481, which already provides for the revocation of citizenship for those who voluntarily serve in the army of a foreign state or pledge allegiance to a foreign state. Lieberman’s proposed bill adds terrorist organization to the same category as foreign state. Currently the State Department is the sole determiner of just who, or what, is a terrorist organization.
The proposed legislation does provide for a truncated review of any State Department action through an administrative review process that is ultimately answerable to the U.S. federal district court. The proposal also places the burden on the State Department to justify the action taken–an important protection given the magnitude of the outcome for individuals.
It appears as though Lieberman’s proposal is a scaled back version of earlier suggestions that would have stripped citizenship at the mere accusation of coordinated efforts with a terrorist organization. So, that’s a start. But given the problems we’ve seen with the Patriot Act and designations of “terror organizations” there is plenty to be concerned about in this proposal.
There is also growing bi-partisan opposition to the bill, based on both concerns regarding the constitutionality of it, as well as the means by which the State Department would make its determinations. Look for continued, heated debate on the proposal as the case against the New York Times Square bomber moves forward.
Disagree with Lieberman’s proposed TEA Act? Let your Senators know by signing the Care2 petition now!
photo courtesy of Beverly & Peck via Flickr