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There is a question on the US N-400 Application for Naturalization form that asks:

10. Have you EVER been a member of, or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:

A. The Communist Party?

How is this question interpreted in the context of being a member of the Democratic Socialists of America? How does USCIS interpret being "a member of The Communist Party"? Is this a disqualifying factor for naturalization?

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The Democratic Socialists of America is not a communist party. Answer no.

You can always disclose membership in the Democratic Socialists of America elsewhere to forestall any suspicion of deception.

The term communist party is defined thus in 8 CFR 313.1:

Communist Party includes:

(1) The Communist Party of the United States;

(2) The Communist Political Association;

(3) The Communist Party of any state of the United States, of any foreign state, or of any political or geographical subdivision of any foreign state;

(4) Any section, subsidiary, branch, affiliate, or subdivision of any such association or party;

(5) The direct predecessors or successors of any such association or party, regardless of what name such group or organization may have used, may now bear, or may hereafter adopt; and

(6) Any communist-action or communist-front organization that is registered or required to be registered under section 786 of title 50 of the United States Code, provided that the applicant knew or had reason to believe, while he or she was a member, that such organization was a communist-front organization.

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  • The broader question of interest here is: who decides what is a communist party? What is The Communist Party? I suspect plenty of immigrants from the People's Republic of China will have to answer yes to this question? – gerrit Nov 19 '20 at 9:29
  • @gerrit the executive branch decides that subject to any constraints placed upon it by statute and the courts. I have edited the answer to add the regulatory definition, which applies to naturalization law. Membership in the communist party does not automatically exclude someone from naturalizing. – phoog Nov 20 '20 at 1:15
  • @phoog So Die Linke (formally Linkspartei.PDS: formally PDS: formally SED: formally KPD) would fullfill the condition of 8 CFR 313.1 (5)? – Mark Johnson Nov 20 '20 at 13:24
  • Who's going to start an ultra-libertarian right-wing part and call it The Communist Party just to annoy people? Or for that matter, something entirely unrelated like a food delivery website. – user253751 Nov 27 '20 at 16:39
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To more understand what the goal of the policy maker was and how it will be applied in practice, the USCIS Policy Manual Chapter 3 Immigrant Membership in Totalitarian Party is very helpful. In particular this quote:

“Any other totalitarian party” is defined as “an organization which advocates the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship or totalitarianism.”

and also:

“Totalitarian dictatorship” or “totalitarianism” refer to systems of government not representative in fact, characterized by:

The existence of a single political party, organized on a dictatorial basis, with so close an identity between such party and its policies and the governmental policies of the country in which it exists, that the party and the government constitute an indistinguishable unit; and

The forcible suppression of opposition to such party

Compare to https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/what-is-democratic-socialism/

Democracy and socialism go hand in hand.

To add my words to these facts: there is nothing in their program that would advocate for a single party system which oppresses all other parties.

Since someone asked about China, it should be painfully obvious the Chinese Communist Party definitely falls under this -- but read the chapter for more because merely being a party member is not enough for exclusion but it needs careful documentation.

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