You Could Lose Your US Citizen This Way

A Mexican woman who impersonated a U.S. immigration officer and defrauded undocumented immigrants of thousands of dollars by falsely promising them help to obtain legal status has been stripped of her citizenship by a California federal judge.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, of California’s Central District, on Monday revoked the citizenship of Araceli Martinez, who is also known as Maria Araceli Ramos de Martinez. The judge prohibited Martinez from claiming or exercising any rights or privileges of American citizenship, and ordered her to surrender her naturalization certificate and any other citizenship documents to the federal government.

Martinez pleaded guilty to obtaining money, labor or property by false pretense in violation of California state law in Los Angeles County Superior Court in September 2012.

The federal prosecutors said that the native of Mexico falsely presented herself as a U.S. immigration officer to undocumented immigrants between June 2011 and March 2012, offering to help them obtain legal status and scamming them out of thousands of dollars in the process.

Martinez herself applied for citizenship in the midst of her scheme and was naturalized in April 2012.

According to federal prosecutors, Martinez said she had never committed a crime or offense for which she was not arrested during her citizenship interview. This is the key that caused her loss of her US citizen.  If she committed crimes after she became US citizen, she would not have lost her citizenship.

Martinez was arrested by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in June 2012 in the alleged immigration fraud and indicted two days later on 11 counts of obtaining money, labor or property by false pretense under the California statute that governs theft by false pretenses.

When denaturalization proceedings were started by the DOJ in April 2017, Martinez was serving a two-year sentence in the Mendocino County jail in Ukiah, California, for a December 2015 felony grand theft conviction.