As Donald Trump calls for extreme vetting of Muslim immigrants, he has pointed to old measures to bar communists which still echo in todays rules
Membership in the Communist party may still preclude would-be citizens from becoming naturalized in the US.
In his speech on Monday, Donald Trump alluded to cold war tactics used to screen out communists in the 1950s when he proposed his extreme vetting of Muslim immigrants using an ideological purity test. But the remnants of those restrictions linger in citizenship requirements today.
As part of the naturalization process, would-be citizens must prove an attachment to the Constitution and have a favorable disposition to the good order of the United States, according to the General Naturalization Requirements by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
However, an attachment to the Communist party, a totalitarian organization or terrorist group may indicate a lack of attachment to the Constitution and an indication that the applicant is not well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.
The applicant cannot become a citizen if they are a member of the Communist party or have been within the past 10 years, have advocated communisms establishment in the US, have published or circulated subversive materials advocating communism, or are affiliated with any groups that do so.
The restriction stems from the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act (also known as the Immigration and Nationality Act) which collected and reorganized immigration law. It has been amended since its original passing, but Section 313, which bans members of the Communist party, remains.
There are a few exceptions which would allow a member of the Communist party to become a citizen despite their affiliation. The exceptions listed on the USCIS website include: if their membership was involuntary or they lacked awareness of the nature or the aims of the organization; if the membership was ended before the age of 16, or 10 years prior to applying for citizenship; or if the membership was used to get a job, food or other essentials.
The burden rests on the applicant to prove that he or she has an attachment to the Constitution and that he or she is well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States, the site notes.
As one blog pointed out, the continued existence of this restriction may disproportionately affect immigrants from China, where membership in the Communist party is popular. Did you think the Cold War was over? immigration lawyer Gary Chodorow wrote.