U.S. v. Haroon, No. 16-3440 (SUTTON, Donald, Thapar).
The defendant was convicted of knowingly procuring his citizenship contrary to law by making false statements in immigration documents. He appealed, arguing that the district court misinstructed the jury when it instructed that the government must “prove facts that raise a fair inference that the material false statement, if disclosed, would have made the person ineligible,” but then stated that the government need not show that the false statement “would more likely than not have produced an erroneous naturalization decision.”
The Sixth Circuit held that the jury instructions were proper. The government had to prove that the defendant (i) knowingly (ii) misrepresented (iii) material facts and (iv) procured citizenship as a result. With respect to materiality, the government must only prove facts that raise a fair inference that the material fact, if disclosed, would have made the person ineligible for citizenship, not that the person was actually ineligible.
The defendant also challenged the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the causation element. The Court noted that the government could show causation by showing that the misrepresented facts themselves were disqualifying or by showing that the truth would have led to the discovery of disqualifying facts. Because the defendant repeatedly lied about making false statements to immigration officials in sworn immigration interviews, and the predicate lie had some influence on the prior naturalization decision, the defendant was automatically disqualified from obtaining citizenship. Therefore, because the instructions were proper and the conviction was properly supported by evidence, the Court affirmed his conviction and sentence.