The opinion of the court was delivered by: United States District Judge VIRGINIA A. Phillips
FINDINGS OF FACT & CONCLUSIONS OF LAW [FED. R. CIV. P. 52]
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") denied Tarek Hamdi's application for naturalization, and he petitioned this Court for review. The matter was tried to the Court on February 1 and 2, 2012, and the Court then took the matter under submission.*fn1 Having considered all the evidence admitted at trial, the arguments of counsel, and the briefing submitted by the parties, the Court GRANTS the Petition, issues the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52, and issues its decision below.
1. Petitioner Tarek Hamdi ("Petitioner") is a natural born citizen of Egypt. Am. Joint Pretrial Conference Order ("PTCO") ¶ 5 ("Admitted Facts")
(1). 2. Petitioner entered the United States in 1977 on a student visa. Id. He studied civil engineering at several colleges and universities, including Northeastern University, where he met Linda Carriere in 1979.
3. Ms. Carriere is a natural born United States citizen. PTCO ¶ 5(2). She and Petitioner married in 1987. Id. They have four daughters, all born in the United States and hence U.S. citizens. PTCO ¶ 5(3).
4. Petitioner applied for Lawful Permanent Resident status in 1988, and his application was granted on May 16, 1988. PTCO ¶ 5(5)-(6). He has been a lawful permanent resident since that date. PTCO ¶ 5(7). Petitioner has returned to Egypt only twice since 1977.
5. Petitioner first filed a naturalization application in 2001; his application was approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
PTCO ¶ 5(1)-(3). On March 15, 2003, the USCIS notified Petitioner it had reopened his case, and on February 23, 2006, scheduled a naturalization interview for March 10, 2006. PTCO ¶ 5(5)-(6).
6. Petitioner did not appear at the March 10, 2006, interview because he did not receive the notice, and the USCIS denied his naturalization application for failure to appear at the scheduled interview.
PTCO ¶ 6(7)-(8); Ex. 103.
7. On February 15, 2007, Petitioner filed a second Form N-400 Application for Naturalization ("Application"). PTCO ¶ 5(9); Ex. 8.
8. Petitioner passed the Naturalization Examination on November 3, 2008. PTCO ¶ 5(11).
9. USCIS Immigration Service Officer Robert Osuna interviewed Petitioner on November 8, 2008, in connection with Petitioner's Application.
10. On March 19, 2009, Petitioner filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, seeking, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1447(b), to compel the USCIS to adjudicate his Application. The Court granted the relief sought and ordered the USCIS to adjudicate Petitioner's Application no later than June 15, 2009. PTCO ¶ 6(10).
11. The USCIS denied Petitioner's Application on June 8, 2009, on the basis that he lacked the requisite good moral character. PTCO ¶ 5(12). Specifically, Officer Osuna denied the Application on the basis that Petitioner gave false testimony during his interview on November 8, 2008, regarding his alleged affiliation with Benevolence International Foundation ("BIF"), the identity of his last employer, and his employment status. PTCO ¶ 5(13).
12. Petitioner filed an "N-336 Request for a Hearing on Decision in Naturalization" ("N-336 Request") on July 13, 2008, appealing the USCIS decision denying his Application. PTCO ¶ 5(14); Ex. 106.
13. USCIS Officers Elias Valdez and Cecil Clark interviewed Petitioner on September 24, 2009, in connection with his N-336 Request. PTCO ¶ 5(15).
14. The USCIS denied Petitioner's N-336 Request on April 8, 2010, on the basis that he gave false testimony on his application and during his interviews regarding with BIF. PTCO ¶ 5(16)-(17).
B. Residence of Petitioner's Family
15. Beginning in February 2006, Petitioner and his family lived in a house in Corona, California. In May 2008, Ms. Carriere traveled to Cairo, Egypt with the couple's four daughters, on one-way airline tickets. Petitioner and Ms. Carriere testified that when Ms. Carriere and the couple's daughters left, they planned to stay in Egypt for an indefinite period of time, to care for Petitioner's elderly and ailing mother and to give the Hamdi daughters an opportunity to become better-acquainted with Petitioner's family and culture. Their departure also coincided with the U.S. economic downturn, which was affecting Petitioner's employment in the construction industry.
16. Petitioner moved from the Corona house to a small apartment in Riverside shortly after his family left for Egypt.
17. Both Petitioner and Officer Osuna testified that at the November 8, 2008, interview, Petitioner told Officer Osuna that his address had changed from Corona to Riverside, and Officer Osuna wrote the current Riverside address onto the Application. According to Petitioner, Officer Osuna only asked him generally if everything else on the section of the Application dealing with residence was correct, and Petitioner answered that it was. Part 9 (B) on page 6 of the Application seeks the current address of an applicant's children; Petitioner had typed "with me" next to the name of each of his daughter's names, and the Corona address next to his wife's name. Ex. 4.
18. Petitioner testified that at the time of the interview, he and his wife had not decided how long she and their daughters would stay in Egypt, nor where the family would settle next; hence, they considered the visit to Egypt to be a temporary affair, and the family's permanent residence to be the place he resided, i.e., Riverside. He also testified that at the end of his interview, he asked Officer Osuna when he would learn if his naturalization application had been approved, and when the officer responded he needed to investigate further, Petitioner volunteered that his family was then in Egypt waiting to reunite once his naturalization application was approved.
19. Officer Osuna testified that Petitioner told him during the interview that the Corona address listed on the Application was not current, and gave his current Riverside address. Officer Osuna testified the check mark he placed next to this section of the Application meant that he asked Petitioner where each of his daughters was living; if Petitioner had told him his daughters were then in Egypt, ...