Federal Bill Would Revoke Citizenship of Terrorists

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By Kamika Dunlap on May 13, 2010 6:55 AM

Lawmakers have introduced a federal bill that would revoke the citizenship of people who provide support to terrorists.

The proposal is in reaction to the Times Square car bomber suspect Faisal Shahzad, who is a Pakistani-born American. It also has set off set off much legal and political debate, according to the New York Times. The new federal bill would remove American citizenship from terrorists' allies.

The Terrorist Expatriation Act basically would allow the State Department to revoke citizenship of people who provide support or resources to a foreign terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda. Citizenship could also be stripped from those who attack the United States or its allies.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress.

Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the proposal "sounds like a good idea," she urged the State Department to support legislation that would only apply to those convicted of crimes.

Currently, U.S. law identifies seven categories of acts that could result in loss of citizenship and proponents of the bill say the law needs to be updated to combat terrorism more directly.

As it stands, people who lose their citizenship can contest the decision in court.

Then, other legal challenges come into play when someone contests a decision in court. The State Department must present evidence that not only proves the person is a part of a terrorist group, but that they also in fact intended to relinquish his/her citizenship.

The federal bill is co-sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts.

Other lawmakers continue to be more skeptical of the idea and have questioned the overall constitutionality of the proposal.