United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F KENNELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
United States seeks to denaturalize Eleazar Corral Valenzuela
(Corral), a naturalized U.S. citizen, under 8 U.S.C. §
1451(a) on the ground that he obtained U.S. citizenship
illegally or by willful misrepresentation or concealment of a
material fact. Corral has filed a "Motion to Dismiss /
Strike Complaint" in which he requests discovery and a
hearing on certain issues that he claims may warrant
dismissal of the action, and the United States has moved
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) for judgment on
the pleadings on three of the five claims in its complaint.
For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Corral's
motion and grants the government's motion for judgment on
the pleadings in part.
who was born in Mexico, was admitted to the United States as
a lawful permanent resident on February 10, 1994. In January
1999, Corral applied for naturalization using a Form N-400
Application for Naturalization. The form is stamped January
14, 1999. See Compl., Ex. E at 3. Part 7, Question
15(a) of the Form N-400 asks "Have you ever . . .
knowingly committed any crime for which you have not been
arrested?" Id. at 3. On Corral's Form
N-400, that question is answered in the negative.
Id. The certification in Part 11 of the form states
"I certify . . . under penalty of perjury under the laws
of the United States of America that this application, and
the evidence submitted with it, is all true and
correct." Id. at 4. Corral signed this
certification on December 30, 1998. Id. In May 2000,
an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officer
interviewed Corral under oath regarding his naturalization
application. On May 10, 2000, the INS approved his
naturalization application. Corral took the oath of
allegiance and was naturalized as a United States citizen on
June 15, 2000.
months later, in August 2000, a grand jury in Kane County,
Illinois indicted Corral on seven counts of aggravated
criminal sexual abuse in violation of chapter 720, section
5/12-16(b) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.
See Compl., Ex. B (Aug. 9, 2000 Indictment); 720
ILCS 5/12-16(b) (1998). On November 2, 2000, Corral pled
guilty to count 1 of the indictment, which charged the
On or about June 9, 1998 through February 26, 2000, Eleazar
Corral committed the offense of Aggravated Criminal Sexual
Abuse, Class 2 Felony[, ] in violation of Chapter 720,
Section 5/12-16(b) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, as
amended, in that said defendant, [redacted] committed an act
of sexual conduct with [redacted] in that the defendant
knowingly touched the vagina of [redacted] for the purpose of
the sexual gratification of the defendant.
2000 Indictment at 1; see also Compl., Ex. C (Nov.
2, 2000 Plea Hearing Tr.). The state court entered a judgment
finding Corral guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in
violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-16(b), sentenced him to 48 months
of sex offender probation, and ordered him to register as a
sex offender. See Compl., Ex. D (Nov. 2, 2000
November 2017, the United States filed the present
denaturalization action against Corral. The government's
complaint to revoke naturalization contains five counts:
1. Illegal procurement of naturalization: lack of good moral
character (crime involving moral turpitude)
2. Illegal procurement of naturalization: lack of good moral
character (unlawful act adversely reflecting on moral
3. Illegal procurement of naturalization: lack of good moral
character (false testimony)
4. Illegal procurement of naturalization: lack of good moral
character (unlawful act of providing false testimony)
5. Procurement of naturalization by concealment of a material
fact or by willful misrepresentation
at 7-12. In January 2018, Corral filed a motion entitled
"Defendant's Motion To Dismiss / Strike
Complaint," in which he asks the Court to authorize
discovery and hold a hearing on whether the complaint should
be dismissed as barred by laches or as a violation of
Corral's due process or equal protection rights. In
February 2018, the United States moved for judgment on the
pleadings on counts 1, 2, and 5 of the complaint, arguing
that because Corral is estopped from denying the essential
elements of the offense to which he pled guilty, there is no
genuine dispute of material fact and it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on those counts.
U.S.C. § 1427(a), an individual may not be naturalized
as a citizen of the United States unless he or she (1) meets
certain residence and physical presence requirements during
the five-year period immediately preceding the date of filing
the naturalization application, (2) "has resided
continuously within the United States from the date of the
application up to the time of admission to citizenship,"
and (3) "during all the periods referred to in this
subsection has been and still is a person of good moral
character." 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a). The applicant for
naturalization "bears the burden of demonstrating that,
during the statutorily prescribed period, he or she has been
and continues to be a person of good moral character. This
includes the period between the examination and the
administration of the oath of allegiance." 8 C.F.R.
U.S.C. § 1451(a), the United States may institute
denaturalization proceedings "for the purpose of
revoking and setting aside the order admitting [a] person to
citizenship and canceling the certificate of naturalization
on the ground that such order and certificate of
naturalization were illegally procured or were procured by
concealment of a material fact or by willful
misrepresentation." 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a). A
certificate of naturalization is "illegally
procured" if "the congressionally imposed
prerequisites to the acquisition of citizenship,"
including the good moral character requirement, are not met
when naturalization is granted. Fedorenko v. United
States, 449 U.S. 490, 506 (1981); see also United
States v. Kairys, 782 F.2d 1374, 1376 n.1 (7th Cir.
1986) ("Naturalization is illegally procured if any
statutory requirement is not met at the time naturalization
right of citizenship is a precious one. Costello v.
United States, 365 U.S. 265, 269 (1961); see also
Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118, 122 (1943)
(explaining that "[i]t would be difficult to
exaggerate" the value and importance of the right of
citizenship). The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized
that "severe consequences may attend" the loss of
citizenship and that those consequences are especially dire
for those who have lived and worked in the United States as
citizens for many years. See Costello, 365 U.S. at
269; Fedorenko, 449 U.S. at 505; Chaunt v.
United States, 364 U.S. 350, 353 (1960);
Schneiderman, 320 U.S. at 122; see also Knauer
v. United States, 328 U.S. 654, 659 (1946)
("[D]enaturalization, like deportation, may result in
the loss of all that makes life worth living.")
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
the importance of the right of citizenship-and the
potentially devastating toll that loss of that citizenship is
likely to take on a naturalized citizen and his or her
family-it is little wonder that the Supreme Court has held
that "such a right once conferred should not be taken
away without the clearest sort of justification and
proof." Schneiderman, 320 U.S. at 122.
Accordingly, the government carries a heavy burden of proof
when attempting to divest a naturalized citizen of
citizenship after it has been granted: denaturalization is
warranted only if the evidence is "clear, unequivocal,
and convincing," such that it does not "leave the
issue in doubt." Costello, 365 U.S. at ...