U.S. v. Olivar, a Triumph for Denaturalization and for Common Sense

By Dan Cadman on June 15, 2016

Readers of my periodic blog posts will know that I am no big fan of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, almost certainly the most liberal of the federal appellate circuits, whose jurists are authors of some occasionally mind-bending legal acrobatics that throw common sense and logic to the wind.

One of my recent posts involved the Circuit's decision that alcoholism, because it is an illness, does not reflect badly on good moral character ("GMC"), possession of which is a requisite for many immigration benefits, including the most significant one of naturalization. I noted at the time that drug addiction and pedophilia are also recognized disorders, and wondered whether the end road of the circuit's meandering in the wilds of GMC would result in findings that junkies and child-abusers would also be found to possess it.

In a recently published opinion of a case considered in April, United States of America. v. Ceferino Orden Olivar, Jr., the Circuit has made another decision with ramifications on the possession (or lack) of GMC.

In the Olivar case, the Court upheld a lower court's decision to denaturalize a man who was convicted of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The conviction (taking place in April 2009) was subsequent to his naturalization by a period of years (which occurred in May 2002), but — and this is the key point that the Court rightly focused on — the conspiracy for which the man was convicted formed in July 2001, prior to his naturalization, which by law requires the individual to have been a person of good moral character for at least the five years preceding taking of the oath of citizenship.

For once, we see a decision from the Court that is well-reasoned and exhibits common sense; one that we can applaud because it upholds the value of American citizenship and the importance of good moral character. It is particularly significant, given the relevance to the immigration and citizenship system of Olivar's underlying offense: conspiring to commit visa fraud.

Imagine the audacity of a man who, even while conspiring to defeat the lawful working of the immigration law through visa fraud, seeks to avail himself of its utmost and most cherished benefit — the conferring of citizenship.