Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Urging the Rejection of S.247 Bill

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Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Urging the Rejection of S.247 Bill

Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Urging the Rejection of S.247 Bill

December 4, 2015

Dear Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Leahy, and Judiciary Committee Members:

We write to urge you to oppose S.247 (the Expatriate Terrorists Act), a bill Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced earlier this year. The bill runs roughshod over fundamental rights and would do nothing to enhance our security. We are particularly concerned that the bill is being marked up without any hearing on its harmful consequences.

S.247 has two main features, both of which are seriously flawed. First, it would empower the government to pursue expatriation proceedings against American citizens for “providing training or material assistance” to a foreign terrorist organization. This provision sweeps even more broadly than material support laws, which are themselves constitutionally problematic, and – unlike other crimes listed in the current expatriation statute – it does not require a conviction as a basis for loss of citizenship. As such, it would both dilute citizenship – a constitutional right – and deny Americans due process, a jury trial, and other protections enshrined in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

Second, S.247 requires the Secretary of State to deny a passport to, or revoke one from, anyone who the Secretary has determined is a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization or is attempting to join one. This provision is completely unnecessary. The Secretary of State already has the authority to deny a passport to anyone whose “activities abroad are causing or are likely to cause serious damage to the national security or the foreign policy of the United States,” and to revoke a passport on the same grounds.

The government already has expansive powers to punish terrorists and to prevent them from entering the United States. S.247 does not make us safer, but it does jeopardize important constitutional protections.

We urge you to oppose the bill.

The Undersigned

To read this letter as a PDF, click here.

U.S. Capitol Building in January of 2012. [U.S. Capitol Building, accessed 12/7/15]

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8567825104_7a32a83018_oPresident Barack Obama thanks Senators Nunn and Lugar for their work to help denucularize countries after the fall of the Soviet Union at the National Defense University Dec 3, 2012 in Washington D.C. Prior to the speech Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta presented the Senators with the defense civilian service award, the highest award the Department of Defense can give a civilian.  DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo (Released)