President Barack Obama may seek to highlight the fact that he brought home (some of) the American hostages long held by Iran, but the reality is far more complicated. Not only did he effectively trade billions of dollars in cash for the hostages, but he also agreed to swap convicted felons. While the Islamic Republic released those arrested for the crime of journalism, being Christian, or having once served in the U.S. Marines, Obama not only released an Iranian citizen and six Iranian-Americans convicted of seeking to smuggle high-tech goods to Iran in support of its covert nuclear and military programs, but he also pardoned several. In other words, it was not enough to once again trade with terrorist and provide the leading state sponsor of terrorism with a $100 billion windfall with which it can re-arm itself and its proxies with the latest military technology, but he has effectively allowed those Iranians who acquired American citizenship only to betray their adopted homeland out of greed or ideology the ability to remain in the United States with a blank slate. Indeed, many show no inclination to leave the United States even after having sought to subvert its laws in order to empower a state whose regime has sworn repeatedly to destroy America. That is unacceptable.

While Congress has been largely impotent in asserting its authority vis-à-vis advising and consenting on Obama’s outreach to Iran, perhaps it is time for Congress to take matters into its own hands to constrain the ability of those Iranian-Americans whom a court has found guilty effectively of treason to stay and retain their citizenship. It may be impossible to revoke the citizenship of natural born citizens, but immigrants can be ‘de-naturalized,’ according to FindLaw, under certain conditions:

  1. Falsification or Concealment of Relevant Facts: You must be absolutely truthful when filling out paperwork and answering interview questions related to the naturalization application process. Even if the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) fails to recognize any lies or omissions at first, the agency may file a denaturalization action against you after citizenship has been granted. Examples include failure to disclose criminal activities or lying about one’s real name or identity.
  2. Refusal to Testify Before Congress: You may not refuse to testify before a U.S. congressional committee whose job it is to investigate your alleged involvement in subversive acts, such as those intended to harm U.S. officials or overthrow the U.S. government. This requirement to testify in order to maintain citizenship status expires after 10 years.
  3. Membership in Subversive Groups: Your citizenship may be revoked if the U.S. government can prove that you joined a subversive organization within five years of becoming a naturalized citizen. Membership in such organizations is considered a violation of the oath of U.S. allegiance. Examples include the Nazi Party and al-Qaeda.
  4. Dishonorable Military Discharge: Since you may become a naturalized U.S. citizen by virtue of serving in the U.S. military, your citizenship may be revoked if you are dishonorably discharged before serving five years. Reasons for dishonorable discharge, which must follow a general court-martial, include desertion and sexual assault.

The second category here might be the only possible path for those who have been citizens for less than a decade. At the very least, Congress might call all of those released or pardoned to testify with regard to their efforts to sell illicit technology to Iran out of profit or ideology. If they refuse and have been citizens for less than ten years, it is time to revoke their citizenship and expel them from the United States. If they have been in the United States for more than ten years, let their betrayal once again be public record. If they deny the charges in front of Congress — charges for which they had been convicted — then they might easily be found guilty of perjury, fined, and perhaps returned to jail. If they refuse to testify, they might be found in contempt of Congress, and returned to prison. Obama seems to care very little for the value of citizenship or national security. Congress need not follow his lead, however.