News and Press Releases

Appeals Court Reverses Nevada District Judge In Immigration Fraud Case

May 18, 2009

Las Vegas, Nev. – The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the United States Attorney's Office was correct when it argued that federal law required mandatory revocation of U.S. citizenship for two defendants who had obtained naturalization and citizenship through fraud.

Sardar Jan Barekzai and Malia Barekzai are citizens of Afghanistan who unlawfully entered the United States under false identities in 1996. In March 2007, they were indicted by the Federal Grand Jury in Las Vegas, and in January 2008, they pleaded guilty to conspiracy, marriage fraud, and making false statements on immigration forms in order to obtain U.S. citizenship. Following conviction, the United States Attorney's Office filed a motion to revoke Sardar and Malia Barekzai's citizenship at sentencing pursuant to a federal law which mandates revocation when a person is convicted of unlawfully procuring citizenship. At the sentencing hearing on April 28, 2008, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones sentenced both defendants to a 60-month term of probation, but denied the United States' motion to revoke their citizenship.

The United States appealed Judge Jones' decision, arguing that the law under which the Barekzais were convicted afforded no discretion in the citizenship revocation decision. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the judge's decision, finding that revocation was mandatory and "there is no exception."

The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly Frayn, Jeffrey Tao, and Peter S. Levitt.

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