The Volokh Conspiracy

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Government Loses Denaturalization Case in U.S. v. Malik

The case showcases a laundry list of problematic behaviors on the part of the government


The government failed in its attempt to denaturalize Pakistan-born Afaq Ahmed Malik, and the opinion from the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas is here. The government was unable to prove its accusation that Malik had not divorced his wife in Pakistan before marrying an American woman through whom he obtained permanent residency and later citizenship.

Malik's defense attorneys note some of the significant problems in the government's behavior and case here, while you have to read the decision itself for some of the other gems. A few noteworthy ones:

  • The government was sanctioned for its failure to turn over relevant documents after its investigation into Malik's divorce decree.
  • The district court denied expert witness status to two supposed experts that the government brought in. One of them was neither familiar with Pakistani law nor spoke or read Urdu, the language in which the documents were written about which he was testifying.
  • Numerous mistakes were made when immigration officers questioned and evaluated Malik, including failures to follow protocols regarding the way that questions were supposed to be asked and answers recorded.

This case highlights the need for skepticism about taking the government's claims at face value in denaturalization cases and thus also reinforces the crucial need for (effective) defense counsel in these situations. As Cassandra Robertson and I have argued, providing counsel to defendants not just in criminal but also civil denaturalization proceedings should not be optional.