A Sudanese-born beneficiary of the diversity visa lottery funneled money for years to a designated terrorist, federal officials noted while moving to strip him of legal status.
"Plain and simple, if you defraud the U.S government during the naturalization process, you risk having your citizenship revoked,” Thomas Homan, deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Wednesday.
Mubarak Ahmed Hamed was convicted in 2010 of sending $1 million from a nonprofit to a terrorist in Jordan, who redirected the funds into Iraq in the years before the U.S. invasion to depose its leader Saddam Hussein. Hamed began a four-year, 10-month prison term in 2012. Justice Department officials asked a federal judge on Wednesday to revoke his legal status in a denaturalization complaint.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the case to push for changes to immigration law.
“This alleged denaturalization case is indicative that America needs this reform to our broken immigration system now more than ever,” Sessions said. “Under the guise of running a nonprofit to assist in the famine crises in Africa, a ‘Diversity Visa’ recipient allegedly transferred funds on a regular basis to a known terrorist, undermining our nation’s lawful immigration system, public safety, and national security.”
The denaturalization complaint comes in the midst of a congressional debate over whether the diversity visa program, making Sessions' blunt statement even more pointed. President Trump’s team unveiled a proposal in January that would provide a path to citizenship to 1.8 million people who were brought illegally into the country as children. In exchange, the administration is demanding an end to the diversity visa lottery, reforms of how immigrants qualify for visas, and enhanced border security.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delivered the longest floor speech in at least the last 100 years on Wednesday, as she criticized a spending deal that doesn’t include a path to citizenship for the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created under former President Barack Obama. "The young people are our future and these dreamers are part of that,” Pelosi said on the House floor.
The inclusion of the DACA beneficiaries in the spending bill would eliminate the potential for a deal of the sort the Trump team has proposed. “We intend to do a DACA and immigration reform bill — one that the President supports,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday, per CNN.
Sessions used the Hamed case to push for a broader change to immigration law. “Immigration is a national security issue, and a merit-based immigration system would better serve our national interest because it would benefit the American people,” he said.