A federal judge has approved an order that will revoke the naturalized citizenship of a Harris County man convicted of a sex offense more than 20 years ago.
Jose Arizmendi is one of a growing number of immigrants stripped of citizenship. A push that began in the final years of the Obama administration.
Arizmendi is a native of Mexico who failed to disclose his 1996 conviction when he applied for citizenship.
“The Justice Department is committed to preserving the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler said in a statement.
“We will aggressively pursue denaturalization in cases where individuals lie on their naturalization applications. Especially in a circumstance like this one, which involved a child sex abuser. Civil denaturalization cases are an important law enforcement tool for protecting the public, including our children.”
Arizmendi plead guilty in Harris County to ‘aggravated sexual assault of a child’ back in April 1996. He applied to become a citizen later that month.
During his October 1996 immigration interview, he said “no” when asked if he’d ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.
Once discovered, it took more than a year to work through the logistics of serving legal papers to Arizmendi.
The man is in prison in Mexico serving his 18-year sentence after a 2012 arrest there for rape of a minor. He has been ordered to surrender and deliver his Certificate of Naturalization immediately.
Normally, when one receives naturalized citizenship, it is irrevocable. However in cases where the government finds out later that the applicant lied or committed fraud through the process. Naturalized immigrants can be stripped of citizenship for something as minor as failing to tell immigration officials they broke the speed limit two decades earlier.
In the final years of President Barack Obama’s administration, the federal government began stripping citizenship at a pace not matched by purges in the 1980s and 1990s targeting naturalized Nazi war criminals.
So far, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department seems to be keeping up that pace.