A judge has revoked a child sex abuser’s US citizenship 20 years after the Mexican native lied to immigration officials about his conviction.

Jose Arizmendi, 54, who lived in Harris County, in Texas, had failed to disclose his 1996 conviction when he applied for US citizenship the same year.

The case is one of a growing number of immigrants stripped of citizenship following a push that began in the final years of the Obama administration.

The 54-year-old had pleaded guilty in Harris County to aggravated sexual assault of a child in April 1996, accepting 10 years of probation as part of a deferred adjudication agreement.

He applied to become a citizen later that month and during his October 1996 immigration interview he replied ‘no’ when asked whether he had ever been arrested or convicted of a serious crime.

Following that the government approved his application and Arizmendi became a citizen later that year.

However, through record searches, immigration officials came to learn about his child sex assault conviction.

They then handed the case over to the Department of Justice.

Authorities then learned Arizmendi was being held in a jail in Mexico after a 2012 arrest there for rape of a minor. He was serving an 18 year prison sentence in the country.

Although Arizmendi might have qualified for criminal denaturalization proceedings, a 10-year statute of limitations forced the federal government to seek a civil denaturalization instead.

It took more than a year to serve legal papers to the Mexican prison he was incarcerated at.

His case was finally heard by federal judge Vanessa Gilmore, who ruled that his conviction stopped him demonstrated the necessary good moral character he needed to quality for US citizenship.

Judge Gilmore also ruled that he did not meet the requirements for naturalization and unlawfully procured his citizenship because he hid his conviction from federal immigration authorities.

Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez for the Southern District of Texas said: ‘Applications for naturalization must be candid with all material facts. Like in this case, failing to disclose material data should result in denaturalization.’

Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler said in a statement: ‘The Justice Department is committed to preserving the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.

‘We will aggressively pursue denaturalization in cases where individuals lie on their naturalization applications, especially in a circumstance like this one, which involved a child sex abuser.

‘Civil denaturalization cases are an important law enforcement tool for protecting the public, including our children.’

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