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Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, 8 U.S.C.S. § 1451(a), procuring citizenship by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation is grounds for denaturalization.
The government filed a complaint against defendant Jonas Stelmokas pursuant to section 340(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended ("INA"). In its complaint, the government alleged that in his application for naturalization with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, defendant concealed his membership in the Schutzmannschaft. Defendant refused to answer the allegations in the complaint regarding his wartime activities as he claimed that his answers could be used against him in criminal proceedings in the United States and other countries. The government then moved to compel defendant to answer the complaint on the ground that defendant could not rely on the Fifth Amendment to refuse to answer. The district court granted the government's motion as it concluded that either the sections of federal law under which defendant feared prosecution were inapplicable to him or the statute of limitations barred prosecutions under them. Thus, the court concluded that defendant did not face a real and substantial threat of prosecution in the United States. Despite this, however, defendant refused to testify at trial. Ultimately, the district court revoked defendant’s naturalization. Defendant appealed.
Did the defendant’s misrepresentations warrant the revocation of his naturalization?
The court affirmed the order, holding that the Immigration and Naturalization Act, 8 U.S.C.S. § 1451, permitted denaturalization if an alien was either ineligible for admission to United States at time of entry or materially misrepresented his status at the time he sought entry. According to the court, a district court was permitted to infer from defendant’s invocation of self-incrimination privilege at the denaturalization hearing that his testimony would have been adverse to him. Moreover, the evidence established that defendant was a voluntary member of an armed unit which assisted the Nazis in persecuting Jews, and that he misled immigration authorities about his employment during World War II. Given those findings, the court held that denaturalization and deportation had been established by the requisite clear and convincing evidence.