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Abdul H. Alocozy v. USCIS

The Ninth Circuit held that an aggravated felony conviction entered on or after November 29, 1990, permanently prohibits a permanent resident from establishing good moral character for naturalization, even if an immigration judge has granted 212(c) relief from removal. The applicant for naturalization here had been convicted in 1991 of assault with intent to commit rape in violation of section 220 of the California Penal Code.

The Ninth Circuit rejected the argument that the Supreme Court's decision INS v. St. Cyr prohibited the attachment of that new penalty to an offense that was not defined as an aggravated felony at the time of conviction. It reasoned that, unlike removal proceedings where the government must prove removability, in naturalization proceedings the applicant bears the burden of establishing eligibility and no potential applicant could have a settled expectation that a conviction for assault with intent to commit rape would not affect the requirement of proving good moral character.