Sunday, October 2, 2011

Clifford Robert DROUILLARD: Petition for Naturalization

Two weeks ago, I posted about a story I was piecing together on my second maternal grandfather, Clifford Robert DROUILLARD. I had found an entry in's naturalization index, which showed that he filed a petition for citizenship with the Eastern District of Michigan U.S. district court in 1965. I had also found some references to his case in documents on the USCIS website defining good moral character. My suspicion was that he had trouble becoming naturalized because of a false identity he provided upon his entry in the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 1950s, a story that he told me about in December 2008, about nine months before he died. He did not say that was why he was never naturalized, but he did tell me that he was a only a legal resident and not a citizen of the U.S.

I followed's directions about where to find the actual naturalization records to which the index card was referring. I ordered his file from the National Archives-Great Lakes Region in Chicago through their online ordering system for $7.50. I received it very quickly, but I was disappointed to find that it only contained his petition for naturalization. In any event, I was excited to at least have the petition because it did provide info that I did not have, such as his military service dates and his date of entry into the U.S. (though I believe it was his second date of entry after he was sent back to Canada for falsifying his military records).

I will not post the actual petition because it contains information on his second wife, who is still living (I should probably ask my aunts how to get in contact with her). I will, however, share the pertinent information contained in the document.
  • Filed under Section 329 at the district court of the U.S. in Detroit, Michigan
  • Full name is Clifford Robert Drouillard
  • Resided at 3191 Wadhams Rd. in North Street, St. Clair, Michigan
  • Worked as a mechanic
  • Born on 10 Jan 1932 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada
  • Medium complexion
  • Brown eyes
  • Brown hair
  • 5'8" tall
  • 170 pounds
  • Scar on center forehead
  • Citizen of Canda
  • Married to B. on 14 Nov 1964 in Port Huron, Michigan
  • B. was born in 1936 in Pembroke, Ontario
  • B. entered the United States with him in May 1961 at Port Huron, Michigan
  • B. had not been naturalized
  • Served in the U.S. Marine Corps under service no. 1348427 from 25 Oct 1952 to 2 Mar 1954
  • Entered military service at Detroit, Michigan
  • Honorably discharged on 2 Mar 1954 (I had my suspicions about that one)
  • Had resided continuously in the U.S. since 15 May 1961
  • Had 4 living children
  • Witnesses were Leo F. Drouillard, railroad switchman, of 3188 Wadhams Rd. in North Street and Eva G. Caughill, housewife, of 3596 Pollina Ave. in Port Huron. (his brother and sister)
  • Alien no. was A8 857 380.
  • Filed on 26 May 1965 at Detroit, Michigan
  • Denied by Judge Kaess on 11 Jul 1967 due to failure to establish proper documentation
The parts of the petition asking for his date of lawful entrance were crossed out and left blank. I have a feeling that he entered the U.S. illegally, since he told me that he had been deported to Canada after falsifying his military records. He also crossed out and left blank the parts about being physically present in the U.S. for the six month period preceding the date of filing the petition. I imagine he had gone back to Canada to visit relatives numerous times during that six-month period (three of his sisters remained in Canada). He did swear to residing in the U.S. for the six-month period, however.

I was disappointed that there was no documentation proving why they chose to deny his petition. I decided to check out the good moral character references on the USCIS website one more time to see what I could find. I had only skimmed them before. I sure am glad that I decided to look at them in more detail.

What I found was that Section 329 allows an alien who has served in the U.S. military to petition for naturalization in a more expedient manner than the normal course. This is the section under which my grandfather filed his petition. The document in which his case was referenced was an interpretation of Section 329.1 Naturalization based upon honorable service in the armed forces during wartime. He is mentioned in Footnote 33, which is attached to this part of the interpretation:
In determining whether the petitioner has met the burden of establishing good moral character, the inquiry into these matters shall extend to the petitioner's entire lifetime. Should the inquiry disclose relevant adverse conduct or activity which occurred during a reasonable period of time immediately preceding the date of the petition, and/or during the period between the date of the petition and final hearing, and the adverse information is of sufficient weight and probative value to warrant the finding, it shall be concluded that the petitioner has not sustained the burden of proof, and he shall be deemed ineligible for naturalization.
He is also mentioned in Footnote 35, which is attached to this part of the interpretation:
(7) "Separated under honorable conditions" requirement . (i) Undesirable discharge . A petitioner who was issued an undesirable discharge from the Marine Corps in 1954 because he falsified his name, age, place of birth, citizenship, arrest record, and previous military service was held not to have met this requirement, since under section 13254 of the Marine Corps Personnel Manual an undesirable discharge is defined as a separation under conditions other that honorable, issued for unfitness, misconduct, or for security reasons.
They are obviously talking about my grandfather because this matches up with the story he told me and the dates of military service he gave in his petition. Also, the alien number in the footnote matches the alien number on his petition, so I know for certain they are talking about him and not a person with the same name. Apparently, he received an undesirable discharge, which is somewhere between honorable and dishonorable. Because the interpretation is referencing all of this, I know there must be more info than just the petition.

After much research, I found on the Blood and Frogs blog that the USCIS usually has more information than what is on file at the National Archives for naturalization occurring after 1906. I've decided to go ahead and request his A-file (alien file) from the USCIS under the Freedom of Information Act. I have to submit proof of death, but that shouldn't be a problem because they will accept obituaries and SSDI printouts as proof. I also have a proof of death certificate from the funeral home. I thought I read that the agency had to respond within 20 days to an FOIA request, but I also saw on the ProGenealogists blog that it can take 18-20 months, so I may have to be patient. They have a genealogy record search program, but because his records are more recent than the files covered by that program, I cannot request them through that program.

In the meantime, I may also try requesting the records from the U.S. District Court in Detroit. They have what seems like a simple online ordering system, and they also have an online records search system, though I don't know if records from 1965-1967 are available online. I have my doubts about that. Registration for the online system is free, but you have to pay for search results. I'm just not exactly sure what to request from the U.S. District Court. I have the petition number, his alien number, and the dates, so maybe that will be enough for them to retrieve the rest of the file.

I also need to order the military records, especially since I now have the dates and service number. I did find an unusual social security card in my grandmother's photo albums that I inherited when she died in 2008. It was a social security card for a man that I didn't recognize. I don't know anyone in the family by this name, so I have no idea why we would have a social security card for him. I am beginning to wonder if this was my grandfather's friend that he was covering for in the military. I did a little searching, and found that there is someone around my grandfather's age with that name who appears to still be alive and living in Fort Gratiot, St. Clair, Michigan. However, it was a common name, so I'm not sure if this living person has any relevance or not.

So, stay tuned! It may be several months before I get any additional information, but I will keep you posted.

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