Judge R. Gary Klausner of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered an order that revoked the naturalized U.S. citizenship of Araceli Martinez a.k.a. Maria Araceli Ramos de Martinez. The later pleaded guilty in 2012 to a charge of Obtaining Money, Labor or Property by False Pretense, which is a violation of the California Penal Code. On August 21, the judge ordered Martinez to refrain from claiming any rights, privileges, or advantages of American citizenship, and ordered her to immediately surrender and deliver up her Certificate of Naturalization and any other proof of her naturalized citizenship to federal authorities.
“The Justice Department is committed to preserving the integrity of our nation’s immigration system and the propriety of the government’s adjudication of immigration benefits,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division in a statement. “We will aggressively pursue the denaturalization of individuals who lie on their naturalization applications, especially in a circumstance like this one, which involved an alien who masqueraded as an immigration officer and was convicted of defrauding nine aliens of thousands of dollars in exchange for false promises of facilitating immigration benefits.”
A native of Mexico, Martinez had engaged in a scheme in 2011 and 2012 in which she impersonated a U.S. immigration officer. Martinez falsely represented that undocumented immigrants could hire her to assist them in obtaining legal status, thereby defrauding her victims of thousands of dollars without ever submitting any paperwork on their behalf. Martinez became a naturalized American citizen even while engaging in her fraudulent scheme.
According to the Department of Justice, while under oath during her naturalization interview, Martinez stated that she had never committed a crime or offense for which she was not arrested. The federal government thereby granted her naturalization application and Martinez became a U.S. citizen in 2012. When the Department of Justice filed a complaint in federal court to initiate denaturalization proceedings in April 2017, Martinez was incarcerated in the Mendocino County jail in California, serving a two-year sentence for a December 2015 conviction for felony grand theft.
“This order sends a clear message to individuals who commit fraud during the naturalization process – we will investigate you and seek you out to ensure that justice is done,” said Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan. “ICE will continue to work with our partners at the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation – District Court Section to hold individuals responsible for their fraudulent conduct, especially those pretending to be government officials.”