An interesting case out of the Seventh Circuit came out last week that may be of interest to those undocumented immigrants who may have or who are currently using false or fake social security numbers. The decision, Arias v. Lynch, concerns whether Ms. Arias, who is currently in removal proceedings, is deportable on the basis of her conviction for using a fake social security number to work. In more technical terms, the issue is whether this crime, found in 42 U.S.C. 408(a)(7)(B) constitutes a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude ("CIMT") which would not only pose a ground of deportability but also prevent her from applying for cancellation of removal. Although this case is from a different jurisdiction, the Court's analysis of the issue is quite insightful and trenchant in exposing the arbitrary nature of CIMTs and how even educated attorneys and judges can make critical errors that directly impact the lives of people who have lived here for decades.
Following up on the heels of our last post, the Third Circuit of Appeals issued two precedential decisions affirming a denial of US citizenship to two different parties who had acquired their permanent residency through false statements or fraud. The two cases were decided by two different panels but interestingly, arrived at the same conclusion. The two cases are Saliba v. Attorney General and Koszelnik v. Secretary of Homeland Security. Although the facts are different, the gist of both cases is that the immigrants in question secured their green cards by affirmatively providing false information on their permanent resident applications. One party represented that he was a citizen of Lebanon when he wasn't, and the other omitted the fact that he had an A number and had actually been in court proceedings when applying for their green cards. Both gentlemen's lies were not caught at the green card stage and they subsequently applied for naturalization more than five years later. In both cases, the Court denied their petitions, predicating their decisions largely on the notion that even though the applicants were permanent residents, they were nevertheless not "lawfully admitted" as permanent residents, as required by 8 U.S.C. 1429.
In yet another example of why you should never lie or make misrepresentations to the government in connection with immigration benefits, the Board of Immigration Appeals issued a decision regarding the consequences of false testimony. In Matter of Gomez-Beltran, 26 I & N Dec. 765 (BIA 2016), the Board ruled that a person cannot establish good moral character if during the relevant period, he or she gives false testimony under oath in immigration proceedings. In the case, Mr. Gomez-Beltran was in removal proceedings and submitted an application for cancellation of removal. As part of any application for cancellation for non-permanent residents, the respondent must prove the lack of any criminal record that would render him/her removable. Additionally, the respondent must also demonstrate good moral character. In spite of his lengthy criminal record, Mr. Gomez-Beltran did not disclose his full criminal history: according to the decision, he only indicated a conviction for driving while under the influence. Even under cross examination by the government attorney, Mr. Gomez-Beltran continued to maintain that his record was otherwise clear. To make matters worse, he repeatedly denied any further criminal conduct even after being confronted with evidence. Only after the government confronted him about each and every conviction did he eventually relent and acknowledge that he was also guilty of those offenses.