Naturalized immigrants who lied about their histories of sexual abuse during the naturalization process can lose their U.S. citizenship. Such is the target of the Trump administration as announced by the Department of Justice on Tuesday.
In fact, administration lawyers have already filed denaturalization lawsuits against five U.S. citizens living in Illinois, Florida, and Texas. Civil complaints said the individuals involved there deliberately concealed the sexual abuse crimes they committed before they were naturalized.
It is allowed under U.S. immigration to revoke the naturalization certificate of anyone who obtained their American citizenship by deception- either by concealing or misrepresenting material facts during the application process. The DOJ said the five defendants identified as Jorge Luis Alvarado, 56; Alberto Mario Beleno,64: Eleazar Corral Valenzuela, 49; Moises Herrera-Gonzalez, 55; and Emmanuel Omopariola, 60 all lied about their criminal histories on their application forms and during in-person interviews with immigration officials.
The five defendants had pleaded guilty to sex crimes against minor children, some of whom are as young as six years old. They were convicted of the crimes they committed before they applied for naturalization.
Their citizenship can be voided since DOJ lawyers said applicants for American citizenship must show a history of “good moral character” for at least five years before the application date, so the five were ineligible for the naturalization process in the first place.
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “Committing fraud in any immigration matter undermines the integrity of our immigration system, and is a betrayal of the American people’s generosity. “
Sessions underscored that it is especially appalling when the crimes the immigrants committed “involves sexual abuse of children.”
The DOJ with Sessions as Attorney General has prioritized civil denaturalization prosecutions against people who lied about material facts in the process of applying for citizenship. Recently, a Mexican national was stripped of her citizenship for impersonating a U.S. immigration officer while going through the naturalization process.
The DOJ has also filed denaturalization cases against immigrants who lied about their ties to terrorism and previous orders of deportation.