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United States v. Valenzuela

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 26, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Eleazar Corral Valenzuela, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued April 15, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:17-cv-08423-Matthew F. Kennelly, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.

          St. Eve, Circuit Judge.

         Seventeen years after Eleazar Corral Valenzuela (Corral) was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a minor family member in Illinois state court, the United States filed a civil complaint to revoke his naturalized citizenship and cancel his certificate of naturalization. 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a). The district court granted the government judgment on the pleadings, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), after dismissing Corral's affirmative defenses. We affirm.

         I

         Corral, a native of Mexico, was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident in 1994. In January 1999, he applied for naturalization, and he became a United States citizen in June 2000.

         Shortly after, a grand jury in Kane County, Illinois indicted Corral on seven counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Less than five months after becoming a United States citizen, Corral pleaded guilty to one count of the indictment, which charged:

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 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.

         Corral was convicted under Illinois's aggravated criminal sexual abuse statute, 720 ILCS 5/12-16(b), which at the time of his conviction stated:

The accused commits aggravated criminal sexual abuse if he or she commits an act of sexual conduct with a victim who was under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the accused was a family member.

         In 2017, the United States filed a five-count civil complaint seeking to revoke Corral's citizenship on the grounds that he obtained his citizenship illegally and by willful misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact. See 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a). We focus on the first count of the government's complaint, which alleged that Corral lacked good moral character because he committed a crime involving moral turpitude within the statutory period. See 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a)(3); 8 C.F.R. § 316.10(a)(1). In other words, the government sought to revoke Corral's citizenship based on his failure to comply with a statutory prerequisite for naturalization, namely, having good moral character during the five years preceding his application for citizenship until the time he took the oath of allegiance to the United States. See Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490, 506 (1981) ("Failure to comply with any of these conditions renders the certificate of citizenship 'illegally procured,' and naturalization that is unlawfully procured can be set aside.").

         Corral filed an answer and a motion to dismiss/strike seeking discovery and an evidentiary hearing. Around the same time, the United States filed its motion for judgment on the pleadings. The district court denied Corral's motion and granted the government's motion with respect to the first count of the complaint. The district court dismissed the ...


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