Deborah Choi

  • Hosted by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Deborah will disrupt the exclusion of communities of color from American citizenship by challenging denaturalization and related immigration policies through direct representation, impact litigation, and advocacy.

In recent years, the government’s denaturalization operation has rapidly grown in number, scope, and infrastructure. Through denaturalization, the government is able to strip Americans of their citizenship. When an individual is denaturalized, that person is no longer an American and suddenly at risk of potential deportation. While denaturalizations of the past have targeted war criminals, now, denaturalization operations are indiscriminately targeting Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian individuals for the mistakes of incompetent lawyers or inaccurate translators. Denaturalizations operate in conjunction with recent immigration policies dramatically restricting entry into the U.S. to effectively redefine, to the exclusion of communities of color, who is considered “American.” 

Fellowship Plans

Deborah’s project challenges the ever-expanding denaturalization machine by providing pro bono direct representation for individuals targeted for denaturalization, conducting community outreach to raise awareness of this growing threat, and initiating impact litigation against the denaturalization operation itself. In addition, she will situate denaturalizations itheir broader context. Through a white paper and public advocacy, Deborah will shed light on the government’s covert redefinition of American citizenship through denaturalizations and other immigration policies. Deborah is the first-ever Fellow hosted by Muslim Advocates.


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The widespread failure to recognize the humanity of those affected by our immigration policies has led me to believe that communities of color are facing a crisis of belonging in the U.S. and beyond. The government is stripping Americans of their citizenship and effectively redefining citizenship to the exclusion of communities of color. This demands us to act.

Deborah Choi /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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