May 15, 2004
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service refused
to grant citizenship to Mr. Ki-Chul Lee after they discovered that
Lee was fined for gathering too many oysters on the beach.
learning of Lee’s citation, authorities considered
Lee an immoral character. Lee reacted angrily to the decision by
taking legal action. He is determined to redeem himself, explaining
that he is not suing with the intent of gaining citizenship.
can obtain the citizenship after the arraignment suspension in
five years, but I can’t accept [the immigration agency] labeling
me an immoral character. I was not even given a chance to explain
sufficiently at the review session,” Lee said.
Lee continued, “I
had a hearing with USCIS and I thought USCIS would have several
people in charge listen to my case, but
only one indifferent USCIS staff came to the hearing and just went
through the formal procedure.”
Lee came to America as the
spouse of an American citizen in 1998. Lee and his wife were not
aware of the regulations stating that
they had to leave the oyster shells on the beach and that there
was a restriction on gathering. Each of them got a $152 ticket.
Lee attached a detailed document explaining his situation when
he filled out the citizenship application, but was denied citizenship.
Lee said, “I hope to restore my reputation by reasoning that
the Immigration Law requires a citizenship applicant to be a good
moral character, not a perfect moral character.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Translated from Korean by Bonhee Chung.