The Department of Justice has reportedly assigned an FBI special agent to work with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement and the Department of Education Inspector General Charge to investigate Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for alleged criminal violations relating to perjury, immigration fraud, marriage fraud, state and federal tax fraud, federal student loan fraud, and bigamy.
As an immigration lawyer, the very first question that came to mind when I read these reports was what immigration consequences, if any, could attach in the event that any of the above allegations are proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. My analysis, unfortunately, has resulted in more unanswerable questions than definitive answers.
My analysis started with the fact that it is widely known Omar was born in Somalia, and immigrated to the United States as a Somali refugee. At some point after her admission to the country, she obtained U.S. citizenship. The Associated Press reported on November 5, 2009, that Omar fled Somalia to a refugee camp in Kenya with her family in 1991. She ultimately immigrated to the United States as a refugee in 1995.
If this report is correct, the analysis is fairly straightforward. Generally speaking, U.S. immigration law permits refugees to apply for permanent residence, commonly known as a “green card,” one-year after arrival. Five years after holding a green card, refugees may then apply to become a citizen through a process called naturalization.