United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
William O. Bertelsman, United States District Judge
United States brings this action under 8 U.S.C. §
1451(a) to revoke Defendant Karnail Singh's citizenship,
alleging that Singh illegally procured his naturalization by
inter alia, concealing his use of two identities and
his prior immigration history. The Complaint sets forth five
“counts, ” or rather five separate grounds for
revoking Singh's certificate of naturalization:
Count I: Singh was Not Lawfully Admitted for
Permanent Residence due to Fraud or Willful
Count II: Singh was Not Lawfully Admitted
for Permanent Residence Because the Immigration and
Naturalization Service Lacked Jurisdiction to Adjust his
Count III: Singh Lacked the Requisite Good
Moral Character for Naturalization by Virtue of Having
Committed Unlawful Acts.
Count IV: Singh Lacked the Requisite Good
Moral Character for Naturalization by Virtue of Having
Provided False Testimony.
Count V: Singh Procured his Citizenship by
Concealment of a Material Fact or Willful Misrepresentation.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Singh's motion
to dismiss. (Doc. 6). The Court dispenses with oral argument
because the materials before it adequately present the facts
and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the
decisional process. Accordingly, the matter is ripe for
reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion in part
and deny it in part. The Court will only dismiss Count I.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
First Asylum Application and Deportation Order
approximately January 21, 1992, Defendant Singh submitted a
Form I-589 asylum application (“First Asylum
Application”) to the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (“INS”). (Doc. 1, ¶
7). The application was submitted under the name KARNAIL
SINGH DHILLON and stated that he was born in January 1963 in
India and that he last entered the United States in Los
Angeles, California on December 28, 1990. Id. at
¶¶ 7-8. As part of the application process, Singh
was fingerprinted and then signed the application, certifying
that the application and accompanying documents were true and
correct. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. In connection
with his First Asylum Application, Singh submitted biographic
information in Form G-325, dated November 20, 1991
(“1991 Form G-325”) (Doc. 1-3).
In that form, Singh represented: (i) his name as KARNAIL
SINGH DHILLON; (ii) he was born in January 1963, in India;
(iii) he had used no other names; and (iv) that GURMAIL SINGH
and JEET KAUR are his father and mother, respectively. (Doc.
1, ¶¶ 11-12).
January 5, 1993, an INS officer interviewed Singh regarding
his First Asylum Application. Id. at ¶ 13. In
the interview, Singh reaffirmed the truth of the
representations he provided in his First Asylum Application
by again signing his application, certifying that the
application and all accompanying documents were true and
correct. Id. at ¶ 14. On September 29, 1993,
INS denied Singh's First Asylum Application. Id.
at ¶ 15. Singh subsequently filed an untimely letter of
rebuttal and attached a warrant for his arrest in India,
indicating that he committed or is suspected of having
committed terrorist activity and murder in violation of the
Indian Penal Code. Id.
December 7, 1993, INS initiated deportation proceedings
against Singh and issued a Form I-221, Order to Show Cause
and Notice of Hearing (“OSC”). Id. at
¶ 16. INS alleged Singh was deportable under 8 U.S.C.
§ 1252(a)(1)(B) because he entered the United States
without having been inspected and admitted or paroled.
Id. INS served the OSC on Defendant by certified
mail on January 4, 1994. Id. Singh personally
appeared in immigration court. Id. at ¶ 17.
Singh was then personally served with a Notice of Hearing,
stating the date and time of a third hearing. Id.
When Singh failed to appear, the immigration judge entered an
order in abstentia on January 25, 1995, ordering
that Singh be deported to India. Id. Singh, however,
did not depart the United States between January 1995 and May
2002. Id. at ¶ 18.
Second Asylum Application and Application for Permanent
20, 1994, Singh submitted a second Form I-589 asylum
application (“Second Asylum
Application”) to INS, this time under the name
KARNAIL SINGH. Id. at ¶ 19. In the application,
Singh represented that: (i) he was born in December 1968 in
India; (ii) he was detained in jail without charges for a
total of approximately eleven months, beginning in January
1992; and (iii) he last entered the United States at San
Ysidro, California on May 5, 1994, after transiting through
Mexico. Id. at ¶ 20. Singh was fingerprinted
and signed his Second Asylum Application, certifying that the
application and all accompanying documents were true and
correct. Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.
connection with his Second Asylum Application, Singh
submitted biographic information in a second Form G-325A,
dated July 11, 1994 (“1994 Form
G-325A”) (Doc. 1-4), in which he represented:
(i) his name as KARNAIL SINGH; (ii) he was born in December
1968, in India; (iii) that TARSEM SINGH and TARA KAUR are his
father and mother, respectively; and (iv) that he had used no
other names, given that he left blank the question requesting
that he provide “All Other Names Used.”
Id. at ¶¶ 25-26.
September 21, 1995, Christine Smith, on behalf of Singh and
representing herself as Singh's wife, filed a Form I-130
petition (“Visa Petition”).
Id. at ¶ 28. KARNAIL SINGH was listed as the
visa beneficiary. Id. In the petition, Smith
represented: (i) that Singh was born in December 1968, in
India; (ii) his last arrival in the United States was without
inspection on May 5, 1994; and (iii) that Singh had never
been under immigration proceedings, including exclusion,
deportation, rescission, or judicial proceedings.
Id. at ¶ 29. In connection with the petition,
Singh submitted biographic information in a third Form
G-325A, dated September 21, 1995 (“1995 Form
G-325A”), in which he represented: (i) his
name as KARNAIL SINGH: (ii) he was born in December 1968, in
India; (iii) TARSEM SINGH and TARA KAUR are his father and
mother, respectively; and (iv) that with respect to
“All Other Names Used, ” there were
“None.” Id. at ¶¶ 30-31.
30, 1996, Singh submitted a Form I-485 application to
register for permanent residence or adjust his status
(“Adjustment Application”) (Doc.
1-5), under the name KARNAIL SINGH. (Doc. 1, ¶ 33). In
the application, Singh stated: (i) that he was born in
December 1968, in India, and last arrived in the United
States on May 5, 1994; (ii) the first name of his father and
mother, respectively, is TARSEM and TARA; (iii) he had never
been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, fined, or imprisoned
for breaking or violating any law, or ordinance, excluding
traffic violations; (iv) he had never been deported from the
United States or removed from the United States at government
expense or excluded within the past year and was not
currently in exclusion or deportation proceedings; and (v)
that he had never, by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a
material fact, sought to procure, or procured, a visa, other
documentation, entry into the United States, or any other
immigration benefit. Id. at ¶¶ 33-34;
5, 1996, Singh signed his Adjustment Application, certifying
that the application and evidence submitted with it was true
and correct. (Doc. 1, ¶ 35). In connection with his
Adjustment Application, Singh submitted biographical
information in a fourth Form G-325A, dated May 5, 1996
(“1996 Form G-325A”). In form
Singh represented: (i) his name as KARNAIL SINGH; (ii) he was
born in December 1968, in India; and (iii) that TARSEM SINGH
and TARA KAUR are his father and mother, respectively. Singh
left blank the question requesting that he provide “All
Other Names Used.” Id. at ¶¶ 37-38.
March 11, 1997, an INS officer interviewed Singh regarding
his Adjustment Application. Id. at ¶ 40. During
the interview, Singh indicated that the police in India
jailed him for eleven months in 1992 and 1993, without a
court hearing, for possession of firearms. Id. at
¶ 41. Singh also reiterated his application responses in
the negative; specifically: he was not currently in
deportation proceedings and he had never sought to procure an
immigration benefit by fraud or willful misrepresentation of
a material fact. Id. Singh then signed his
Adjustment Application a second time, affirming that any
changes he made to the application in the course of the
interview were based on sworn testimony. Id. at
9, 2002, INS approved Singh's Adjustment Application.
Id. at ¶ 45. Sing then sent a letter to USCIS
on April 16, 2003, requesting to withdraw his Second Asylum
Application. Id. at ¶ 46. On April 22, 2003,
USCIS withdrew Singh's Second Asylum application.
7, 2008, Singh filed a Form N-400 application for
Application”) (Doc. 1-6), under the name
KARNAIL SINGH, claiming he was born in December 1968.
Id. at ¶ 47. Several questions in the
application are relevant to the allegations in this matter.
in Part 1, question C of the application states, “If
you have ever used other names, provide them below.”
Singh wrote in “None.” Id. at ¶ 48.
Second, in Part 10(D), question 15 asks, “Have you ever
committed a crime or offense for which you were not
arrested?” Id. at ¶ 51 (emphasis in
original). Singh marked the box for “No.”
Id. Next, in Part 10(D), question 23 inquires:
“Have you ever given false or misleading information to
any U.S. government official while applying for any
immigration benefit or to prevent deportation, exclusion or
removal?” (emphasis in original). Id. at
¶ 54. Again, Singh marked the box for “No.”
Id. Then, in Part 10(D), question 24 asks:
“Have you ever lied to any U.S. government official to
gain entry or admission into the United States?”
Id. at ¶ 59 (emphasis in original). Singh again
marked the box for “No.” Id. Lastly, in
Part 10E, question 27 inquires: “Have you ever been
ordered to be removed, excluded or deported from the United
States?” Id. at ¶ 62 (emphasis in
original). Singh marked the box for “No.”
about June 30, 2008, Singh signed his Naturalization
Application under penalty of perjury, thereby certifying that
his application and the evidence submitted with it were true
and correct. Id. at ¶ 65.
October 16, 2008, Singh appeared before a USCIS officer and
was placed under oath for an interview concerning the
information Singh provided in his Naturalization Application.
Id. at ¶ 66. When the officer asked Singh to
verify Part 10(D), question 15, Singh orally responded in the
negative, thereby testifying under oath that he had never
committed a crime or offense for which he had not been
arrested. Id. at ¶ 67.
corrections, however, were made to Singh's Naturalization
Application during the interview,  and at the conclusion Singh
again signed the application, thereby certifying under
penalty of perjury that the information provided in the
application (as revised), as well as any evidence submitted
in support of the application, was true and correct to the
best of Singh's knowledge and belief. Id. at
¶ 70. That same day, USCIS approved Singh's
Naturalization Application. Id. at ¶ 71.
on January 15, 2009, Singh was administered the oath of
allegiance, granted United States citizenship, and issued
Certificate of Naturalization No. 31891035. Id. at
Federal Criminal Charges and Guilty Plea
June 16, 2013, Singh was crossing the Ambassador Bridge in
Detroit, Michigan, and presented his passport card to United
States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”)
officers in order to gain entry into the United States. The
name on the passport card was KARNA1L SINGH, and the date of
birth was listed as December 1968. See (Doc. 1-2 at
4, 19). In speaking with the CBP officers, Singh stated that
he had never used any other names or spelling variations of
his name; nor had he ever used any other dates of birth.
Id. at 19.
on these events, Singh was charged on August 16, 2013, in a
two-count indictment with: (1) knowingly using a passport
unlawfully obtained or otherwise procured by fraud or means
of a false claim or statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1546(a); and (2) knowingly and willfully making false,
fictitious, and fraudulent material statements in a matter
within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the United
States (i.e., Singh's conversation with CBP
officers), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2).
Id. at 18-19; (Doc. 1, ¶ 73).
January 23, 2014, Singh entered into a Plea Agreement, in
which the government agreed to dismiss Count II (making a
false material statement), and Singh agreed to plead guilty
to Count I (use of a fraudulently obtained passport). (Doc.
1, ¶ 74); (Doc. 1-2, Plea Agreement at 1, 7).
factual basis for the guilty plea, to which Singh agreed,
establishes that (1) under the name KARNAIL SINGH DHILLON
(born in January 1963), he applied for asylum in 1991, he was
denied asylum, ordered deported, and failed to appear for
deportation as ordered; and (2) under the name KARNAIL SINGH
(born in December 1968), he applied for asylum a second time
in 1994, applied for his status to be adjusted to that of a
permanent resident as the spouse of a United States citizen,
failed to disclose on his Adjustment Application that he had
previously applied for and been denied immigration benefits
under another identity, was granted permanent resident status
as a result of such fraud, withdrew his Second Asylum
Application, and ultimately applied for and obtained
naturalization as a United States citizen. (Doc. 1, ¶
75); (Doc. 1-2 at 2-3).
30, 2014, based on the Plea Agreement, the district court
found Singh guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a),
dismissed Count I on the government's motion, and
sentenced Singh to 12 months' probation. (Doc. 1, ¶
76); (Doc. 1-2 at 21-23).
to now revoke Singh's naturalization, the Government
filed this action on May 18, 2018. Attached to the Complaint,
as required by 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a) to show good cause for
the action, is the affidavit of Heather Wylde, Immigration
Services Officer with USCIS. (Doc. 1-1).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that pleadings,
including complaints, contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To satisfy this
requirement, a complaint must contain enough facts “to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
complaint may be attacked for failure “to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Even though a “complaint attacked by a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual
allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the
grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “all
factual allegations in the complaint must be presumed to be
true” and the court must draw all “reasonable
inferences” in favor of the non-moving party. Total
Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross &
Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation
omitted); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). To that end, a court must judge the sufficiency of a
complaint under a two-pronged approach: (1) disregard all
“legal conclusions” and “conclusory
statements”; and (2) determine whether the remaining
“well-pleaded factual allegations, ” accepted as
true, “plausibly give rise to entitlement to
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
“only a complaint that states a plausible claim for
relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A
claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. at 678. That is, the
plaintiff's “[f]actual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (internal citations omitted). If, from the
well-pleaded facts, the court cannot “infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
Singh's motion to dismiss does not challenge whether the
Government has satisfied the statutory requirements for
revoking his citizenship, the Complaint is best understood
against the backdrop of the relevant law concerning both
naturalization and denaturalization.
Naturalization Requirements and the Denaturalization
the path to U.S. citizenship “there must be strict
compliance with all the congressionally imposed
prerequisites.” Fedorenko v. United States,
449 U.S. 490, 506 (1981); see also 8 U.S.C. §
1429 (“[N]o person shall be naturalized unless he has
been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent
residence in accordance with all applicable provisions of
[the Immigration and Nationality] Act, ” 8 U.S.C.
§§ 1101 et seq.