Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chahla: False Permanent Residency statement can support unlawful naturalization conviction

In U.S. v. Chahla, No. 13-12717 (May 21, 2014), the Court affirmed convictions of three brothers from Syria of unlawful procurement of United States citizenship or naturalization, and conspiracy. The Court rejected the argument that convictions for unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization could not stand because the false statements they made involved applications to become Lawful Permanent Residents, not for citizenship. The Court recognized that in some situations, such as a person who becomes a Lawful Permanent Resident but never applies for citizenship, or only does so many years after obtaining Lawful Permanent Residence, a false statement made in connection with Lawful Permanent Residence might not suffice to establish unlawful procurement of citizenship. But here the defendants sought to naturalize as soon as they were eligible. Consequently, their fraudulent statements (relating to the validity of their marriage to an American spouse) in their Lawful Permanent Resident applications were made with the intent to procure naturalization.