SAN FRANCISCO -- A Danville man had his U.S. citizenship revoked after he falsely claimed he was the victim of religious persecution in his native China to gain asylum, then entered a fraudulent marriage, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Jie Zhong's naturalization was revoked by the United States District Court last week after a trial, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag announced Wednesday.

Zhong, 37, obtained asylum based on the claim that he is a Falun Gong practitioner. A practice of slow-moving exercises and meditation with a philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, those who practice in China are subject to severe human rights violations at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

Authorities said that Zhong applied for permanent residency in the United States, but after waiting four years for that application to be approved, he divorced his Chinese national wife and married a United States citizen.

He obtained permanent residency and he received naturalization, authorities said. But in late 2010, an officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began investigating for marriage fraud.

"When people enter the United States, immigrate and later become citizens, all done through fraud, their unlawful actions harm the integrity of our immigration system," said San Francisco district fraud detection and national security Chief Rebecca Galindo.


Advertisement

Officials were not immediately available to discuss Zhong's current immigration status or any possible deportation proceedings.

Contact Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.