The Department of Justice announced Thursday it is seeking to strip U.S. citizenship from five naturalized immigrants who lied about their criminal sexual-abuse history during the naturalization process.
Government lawyers filed denaturalization lawsuits against the five citizens interspersed amid Texas, California, Maryland and North Carolina. The individuals willfully concealed child sexual-abuse crimes they’d committed prior to naturalizing, according to the federal-court civil complaints.
“Those who wish to become American citizens ought to respect our laws and seek citizenship lawfully and honestly,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Anyone who lies, misleads or omits critical information in an attempt to evade the requirements for naturalization undermines the credibility of our nation’s generous, lawful immigration system.”
U.S. immigration laws allow the government to revoke a naturalization certificate of anyone who obtained citizenship via concealing or misrepresenting material facts during the application process. The five defendants (Ricardo De Leon, 32; Christian Oribello Eguilos, 40; Carlos Noe Gallegos, 41; Alwin Farouk Gariba, 51; Moises Javier Lopez, 42) all lied about their criminal histories on application forms and during in-person interviews with immigration officials, according to DOJ.
In each case, the defendants plead guilty to at least one state charge of sexual abuse of a minor before applying for citizenship. Because a conviction for a “crime of moral turpitude” renders an immigrant ineligible for citizenship, the men willfully misrepresented their criminal histories to immigration authorities in order to obtain a favorable determination, prosecutors said.
Under Sessions, the DOJ has prioritized high-profile civil-denaturalization cases against people who lied about material facts while applying for citizenship. Earlier this month, prosecutors filed a civil complaint to strip U.S. citizenship from a diversity visa-lottery winner who lied about illegally funneling cash to a subject of U.S. sanctions during his naturalization interviews.
DOJ has also brought denaturalization cases against people who lied about terrorism ties and previous deportation orders.
Thursday’s complaints were filed in the Eastern District of California, the District of Maryland, the Middle District of North Carolina, and the Southern District of Texas.
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