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Adeshola Adegoke v. Karen Fitzgerald

May 2, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anita B. Brody, J.


Petitioner Adeshola Adegoke ("Adegoke") is a Nigerian citizen and a lawful permanent resident of the United States who has filed a Petition for De Novo Naturalization Determination (the "Petition") after his naturalization application was denied by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services ("USCIS"). I have jurisdiction over this dispute pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c) and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Respondents Karen Fitzgerald, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Janet Napolitano (collectively, the "Government") and Adegoke have submitted a Joint Statement of Undisputed Facts, and have filed cross-motions for summary judgment asking me to determine whether Adegoke is entitled to naturalization as a matter of law. For the reasons that follow, I will GRANT the Government's Motion for Summary Judgment against the Petition, and I will DENY Adegoke's Motion for Summary Judgment in favor of the Petition.


The facts in this case are not in dispute. Adegoke, born as Muftau Adeshola in Nigeria, entered the United States on a student visa in 1987. On December 14, 1989, Adegoke was arrested by U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Services ("INS"), and was charged with immigration fraud in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1160(b)(7)(a)(i). On January 29, 1990, Adegoke plead guilty to improper entry by an alien in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1325, a misdemeanor. On February 21, 1990, Adegoke was deported from the United States.

After being deported, Adegoke applied for a B-2 non-immigrant visa from the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. In order to obtain this visa, Adegoke provided the Embassy with a false identity, knowing that he would be denied a visa if he disclosed his arrest and deportation. On September 4, 1991, over a year after his deportation, Adegoke re-entered the United States using this B-2 visa. Adegoke remained in the United States for several years, and on May 19, 1995, he married a U.S. citizen.

On October 16, 1995, Adegoke applied for lawful permanent resident ("LPR") status, commonly known as obtaining a "green card," based on his marriage. See 8 U.S.C. § 1255. Adegoke failed to include on his application his arrest, his deportation, or his misrepresentations as to his identity. On April 19, 1996, Adegoke was interviewed under oath by INS. During this interview, INS asked Adegoke whether he was ever arrested or deported from the United States. Aware that answering in the affirmative would affect his chances of obtaining LPR status, Adeshola denied ever having been arrested or deported. Adegoke also denied ever having misrepresented his identity in the process of obtaining a visa. On April 19, 1996, INS granted Adegoke LPR status.

On March 4, 1999, Adegoke applied to the INS for naturalization. On January 13, 2000, INS interviewed Adegoke in connection with his naturalization application. At this interview, Adegoke admitted his misrepresentations. Despite these misrepresentations, INS did not initiate rescission proceedings, and took no action to deport Adegoke. Rather, Adegoke voluntarily withdrew his naturalization application.

On March 8, 2007, Adegoke again applied for naturalization. On this application, Adegoke disclosed his prior misrepresentations. On April 7, 2009, Adegoke was interviewed under oath at the Philadelphia Field Office of USCIS in connection with this application. At his interview, Adegoke again admitted his prior misrepresentations. USCIS denied Adegoke's application for a single reason, stating: "you are not eligible for naturalization because you did not obtain your permanent resident status lawfully." At this time, USCIS did not make a finding that Adegoke made any misrepresentations after 1996, and did not make a finding that Adegoke was not a person of good moral character. Adegoke now petitions for a de novo naturalization determination pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1421(c).*fn1


Summary judgment will be granted "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). There is a "genuine" issue of material fact if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" is insufficient. Id. at 252.

The moving party must make an initial showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The non-movant must then "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In determining whether the non-moving party has established each element of its case, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Id. at 587.


The requirements for naturalization are set out in 8 U.S.C. § 1427. One such requirement is that the petitioner must have been "lawfully admitted for permanent residence . . . ." 8 U.S.C. § 1427. Adegoke has failed to satisfy this requirement.*fn2

As a general matter, "there must be strict compliance with all the congressionally imposed prerequisites to the acquisition of citizenship." Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490, 522 (1981). This includes the requirement that the applicant have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. 8 U.S.C. § 1427. The phrase lawfully admitted for permanent residence is defined at 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(2) as "the status of having been lawfully accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with the immigration laws, such status not having changed." Id. In plain English, the phrase means a noncitizen who holds lawful permanent resident ("LPR") status. See ...

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