United States District Court, D. Colorado
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS (DKT. #29)
REID NEUREITER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an action to revoke United States citizenship pursuant to 8
U.S.C. § 1451(a). This matter comes before the Court on
Plaintiff United States of America's
("Government" or "United States") Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings (Dkt. #29). The Court has
reviewed the Motion, Defendant Mohammed Wali Zazi's
("Mr. Zazi") Opposition (Dkt. #31), and
Plaintiff's Reply in Support (Dkt. #34). In addition, on
September 25, 2018, the Court heard extensive oral argument
on the Motion. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and
D.C.COLO.LCivR 40.1(c), the Parties have voluntarily
consented to the exercise of a United States Magistrate Judge
for all purposes in this case (Dkt. #11). For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS the Government's Motion.
United States brought this action seeking to revoke the
citizenship of Mr. Zazi. Mr. Zazi is a naturalized American
citizen, originally from Afghanistan. According to the
Government's Complaint, prior to naturalizing, Mr. Zazi
committed multiple acts that rendered him ineligible for
naturalization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a)(3), which
requires a person seeking to obtain United States citizenship
to show good moral character during the requisite five-year
period preceding application for naturalization through the
time of admission to citizenship.
the Government alleges Mr. Zazi failed to comply with this
statutory prerequisite for naturalization, rendering his
certificate of naturalization "illegally procured,"
because he provided false statements and testimony on
immigration benefits applications submitted to the United
States and at interviews in support of these applications.
The United States also asserts that Mr. Zazi committed crimes
for which he had not been arrested or convicted at the time
he provided representations and testimony in support of his
citizenship application. According to the Government, each of
these acts rendered Mr. Zazi ineligible to naturalize under 8
U.S.C. § 1427(a)(3). The United States thus brings this
action, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. §1451(a), to revoke and set
aside the order admitting Mr. Zazi to citizenship, and to
cancel his Certificate of Naturalization, No. 29824582.
Legal basis for revocation of citizenship.
U.S.C. §1451(a) imposes a duty on the United States
Attorney for the District of Colorado, upon affidavit showing
good cause, to institute proceedings for the purpose of
revoking or setting aside the order admitting a person to
citizenship and cancelling the certificate of naturalization.
Grounds for revocation and cancellation include that the
order admitting the person to citizenship and certificate of
naturalization "were illegally procured or were procured
by concealment of a material fact or willful
misrepresentation". 8 U.S.C. §1451(a).
Naturalization is illegally procured if an applicant does not
meet any one of the qongressionally imposed requirements for
citizenship . Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S.
490, 506 (1981); 8 U.S.C. § 1427 (entitled
"Requirements of naturalization," and which
includes the requirement, under section 1427(a)(3), that
"during all the periods referred to in this subsection
[the applicant] has been and still is a person of good moral
character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of
the United States, and well disposed to the good order and
happiness of the United States.").
universally recognize that "[t]he naturalization
process, of course, rests on the assumption that accurate and
truthful information is presented by those seeking to become
citizens of the United States." United States v.
Ciurinskas, 148 F.3d 729, 732 (7th Cir. 1998).
Accordingly, "[w]hen naturalization is won by deceit,
and material falsehoods are unmasked, the gift of
naturalization may be revoked." Id.
U.S. citizenship has been conferred, revocation of that
citizenship under 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a) requires
clear, unequivocal, and convincing proof. Schneiderman v.
United States, 320 U.S. 118, 122 (1943). The Government
bears the burden of such proof in denaturalization
proceedings because of the "importance of the right that
is at stake." Fedorenko, 449 U.S. at 505-06.
But, once a district court determines "that the
Government has met its burden of proving that a naturalized
citizen has obtained his citizenship illegally or by willful
misrepresentation, it has no discretion to excuse the
conduct," and must "enter a judgment of
denaturalization." Id. at 517.
following facts, alleged in the Complaint and/or the
Government's Motion (0kt. #29), or derived from documents
of which I may take judicial notice, are not disputed by Mr.
1. Mr. Zazi originally was a native and citizen of
Afghanistan (0kt. #20 at 2116).
2. Mr. Zazi filed an application for naturalization
("N-400") on or about June 25, 2006, with the
Eastern Service Center of Citizenshipand Immigration Services
("CIS"), an agency within the Department of
Homeland Security ("OHS") (0kt. #1-6 at 11; Dkt.
3. Mr. Zazi was interviewed by an Adjudications
Officer of CIS on May 1, 2007, to determine his eligibility
for naturalization (id.).
4. Mr. Zazi's application was approved on October 2,
2007, based on his written application and his testimony at
the naturalization interview (0kt. #1-6 at 1).
5. Mr. Zazi became a U.S. citizen on October 23, 2007, and
was issued Certificate of Naturalization, No. 29824582 (0kt.
#1-11 11 11; 0kt. #1-71113) .
6. As an applicant for naturalization, Mr. Zazi was required
to prove that he was, and continued to be, a person of
"good moral character" from July 1, 2001, five
years before he filed his application for naturalization,
until he took the oath of allegiance on October 23,
7. On July 15, 2011, a federal grand jury returned a
one-count indictment charging Mr. Zazi with visa fraud in
connection with the procurement of a visa for his nephew, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a) (0kt. #1-2 at 2-6). The
grand jury based its charge on Mr. Zazi's submission of a
Form 1-130 Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of his
nephew, Amanullah Zazi (0kt. #1-7). In the Form 1-130, Mr.
Zazi falsely represented that his nephew was, in fact, his
biological son (id. Part A. 1). He also specifically
represented that his nephew was not his adopted son
(id. Part A. 2).
8. On February 10, 2012, a judgment in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of New York was
rendered against Mr. Zazi, upon his plea of guilty, for
committing the offense of visa fraud, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1546(a) (0kt. #1-2 at 24-25).
9. Count One, paragraphs 8-11 of the indictmentto which Mr.
Zazi pied guilty (Dkt. #1-2 at 4-5), alleges that in late
December 2006/early January 2007, Mr. Zazi submitted a Form
1-130 Petition for Alien Relative (Dkt. #1-7) knowing the
petition falsely represented that his nephew was his
biological son, and specifically stated his nephew was not
related to him by adoption.
1a. According to the indictment, Mr. Zazi previously had
caused to be filed a Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition on
behalf of his nephew that also falsely represented his nephew
was his biological son (0kt. #1-2 at 2), and that he also
caused his attorney to file two affidavits in support of the
Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, in which two affiants
attested they were friends of Mr. Zazi, and they had personal
knowledge that Mr. Zazi's nephew was his biological son
because they were present at his birth (id. at 2-3).
11. In pleading to the one-count indictment for visa fraud,
Mr. Zazi admitted that, between 2006 and 2007, he submitted a
Form 1-300 Petition for his nephew, Amanullah Zazi, to come
to the United States (0kt. #1-2 at 20).
12. The colloquy between Mr. Zazi and the judge who accepted
his guilty plea is as follows:
The Court: Tell me, briefly, what you did that makes you
The Defendant: Between 2006 and 2007, Amanullah, who as my
nephew, he resided in Pakistan. I made an application for him
to come to the United States. Amanullah was not my biological
son and I told my attorney to mark it as my real son.
The Court: "Mark it," meaning the 1-1 30 petition ?
The Defendant: I do not know the number of the application.
The Court: Am I correct in understanding that you instructed
your attorney to falsely tell the Immigration authorities
that Amanullah was your biological son?
The Defendant: Yes.
The Court: This seems obvious but we may as well make it
explicit. You knew at the time that he wasn't your
biological son, correct?
The Defendant: Yes. I knew that he was not my biological son.
The Court: I think that does it.
The Defendant: He was my nephew.
Transcript of Plea before the Hon. John Gleeson, United
States District Judge, E.D.N.Y. October 21, 2011, United
States v. Mohammed Zazi, No. 11-cr-00718-JG (Dkt. #1-2
13. Mr. Zazi made false statements to the Government in order
to obtain an immigration benefit for his nephew, Amanullah
14. Mr. Zazi committed the acts constituting this crime in or
around December 2006 and January 2007, during the statutory
period where he was required to demonstrate "good moral
character" in connection with his application for
naturalization, i.e., between July 1, 2001 and October 23,
15. On May 1, 2007, Mr. Zazi appeared before Adjudications
Officer Florentina Preda for an interview regarding his
application for naturalization (Dkt. #1-111111).
16. At the beginning of the naturalization interview, Mr.
Zazi took an oath or affirmed he would answer all questions
truthfully. At the end of his naturalization interview on May
1, 2007, Mr. Zazi signed his N-400 in the presence of Officer
Preda, thereby swearing that everything in his application
was true (Dkt. #1-6 at 11 Part 13).
17. On his N-400 form, Part 9.B., Mr. Zazi falsely listed his
nephew, Amanullah, as his son (Dkt. #1-6 at 7).
18. In response to question 15 of Part 10.0 . (entitled
"Good Moral Character") on his N-400 form,
regarding his criminal history, Mr. Zazi indicated that he
had never committed any crime for which he had not been
arrested (0kt. #1-6 at 9).
19. In response to question 22.e. of Part 10.D. on his N-400
form, asking whether he had "ever [
h]elped anyone enter or try to enter the United States
illegally," Mr. Zazi responded "No" (0kt. #1-6