From Joongang
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.

After 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.

“I 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.”

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Translated from Korean by Bonhee Chung.

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