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BIA Rules that False Claims to Citizenship at Entry Makes Alien Inadmissible

In a decision issued last week, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that an alien who makes a false claim to citizenship at an entry-point has not been admitted under the law. In Matter of Pinzon, a citizen of Venezuela obtained a US passport in the 1980s, using a fake birth certificate. She was convicted in 2002 under 18 U.S.C.§ 1001(a)(2) (2000) for making a false statement. She was placed in removal proceedings, where she argued that she was inadmissible and applied for cancellation of removal. The immigration judge denied her application for cancellation of removal and ordered her removal but  granted her voluntary departure. 

I upholding the immigration judge’s decision, the BIA ruled that it has long held that a person who makes a false claim to citizenship at a port of entry has not been admitted under the Act. The Board reasoned that since the scrutiny is different when it comes to a non-US citizen seeking admission, an alien who gains admission under a false claim to citizenship cannot be deemed to have been admitted under the Act. The Board also ruled that a conviction under 18 U.S.C.§ 1001(a)(2) (2000) is a crime involving moral turpitude since the alien had to make a false statement, which usually involves moral turpitude. 

This decision is erroneous since  the crux of “admission” under the Act is whether the alien was in fact inspected by an immigration officer. It was unclear whether Pinzon had undergone such inspection by the Service. We will see if there will be a petition for review in the this case. 

For a definition of “admission” under the Act visit: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1101

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