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Justice department moves to strip US citizenship from sex abusers

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DCNFWill Racke, DCNF

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

The Trump administration will move to strip U.S. citizenship from several naturalized immigrants who allegedly lied about their histories of sexual abuse during the naturalization process, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Administration lawyers have filed denaturalization lawsuits against five U.S. citizens living in Illinois, Florida and Texas. The individuals willfully concealed child sexual abuse crimes they had committed prior to naturalizing, according to the civil complaints.

“Committing fraud in any immigration matter undermines the integrity of our immigration system, and is a betrayal of the American people’s generosity,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “It is especially appalling when it also involves the sexual abuse of children.”

U.S. immigration law allows the government to revoke the naturalization certificate of anyone who obtained citizenship by concealing or misrepresenting material facts during the application process. The five defendants — Jorge Luis Alvarado, 56; Alberto Mario Beleno, 64; Eleazar Corral Valenzuela, 49; Moises Herrera-Gonzalez, 55; and Emmanuel Olugbenga Omopariola, 60 — lied on application forms and during in-person interviews with immigration officials about their criminal histories, according to DOJ.

All of the defendants had pleaded guilty to sex crimes against minor children — some as young as six years old — before applying to naturalize. Applicants for U.S. citizenship must show a history of “good moral character” for at least five years before the application date, so the defendants were ineligible for naturalization in the first place, DOJ lawyers said.

Under Sessions’ tenure as attorney general, DOJ has prioritized civil denaturalization prosecutions against people who lied about material facts while applying for citizenship. In the most recent high-profile case, a Mexican national was stripped of her citizenship for impersonating a U.S. immigration officer while going through the naturalization process.

DOJ has also brought denaturalization cases against people who lied about ties to terrorism and previous orders of deportation.

Tuesday’s complaints were filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Illinois, the Northern District of Texas and the Southern District of Texas.

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