Problems with DHS fingerprint database

US citizenship

According to an internal audit released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, all 858 of the immigrants that had been granted citizenship were pending deportation orders, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services didn’t discover the fraud because fingerprint records at the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation had not yet been fully transferred from their paper form to the digital database and, therefore, didn’t match the applicants with their real identities. The DHS Inspector General uncovered the mistake which involved people from “countries of concern to national security” who did not have digital fingerprints on file.

The report cites a handful of unnamed immigrants who eventually attained security clearance, like “one USA citizen” who “is now a law enforcement official” and a transportation worker with “unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels”.

At least one of the people identified as having improperly been granted citizenship is now working in law enforcement, the report said.

DHS said in an emailed statement that an initial review of these cases suggest that some of the individuals may have ultimately qualified for citizenship, and that the lack of digital fingerprint records does not necessarily mean they committed fraud.

At least 858 people that had been ordered deported or removed under another name were improperly granted United States citizenship due to a failure to maintain adequate fingerprint records, according to a new report.

Immigrants are required to disclose any previous aliases they have used with immigration officials as well as their immigration history, but they sometimes omit that information.

Additionally, Hakim said DHS had already established a USCIS-led review team to go over every file identified in the OIG report as a case of possible fraud.

Not even the American secret services are not able to help them because FBI’s immigration records are incomplete.

“This failure represents a significant risk to America’s national security as these naturalised individuals have access to serve in positions of public trust and the ability to obtain security clearances”, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Illegal immigrants from Guatemala, who were deported from the US, wait while collecting their belongings from immigration officers processing their re-entry at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City, August 14, 2014.

After the attacks, President Obama signed legislation that tightened visa waivers to make it harder for travelers to enter the United States from Europe if they had dual citizenship from Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria, or had visited one of those countries in the previous five years. Opponents say Obama’s plan to flood the U.S. with unvetted Middle Eastern refugees will afford ISIS and other terrorist organizations further opportunities to embed jihadists in the country.

ICE officials told auditors that the agency hadn’t pursued many of these cases in the past because federal prosecutors ‘generally did not accept immigration benefits fraud cases’. Normally, applicants for citizenship would have their identifies verified via fingerprints, but the fingerprints of these 858 people were not on file.

John Roth, inspector general for DHS, said that 315,000 sets of fingerprints are missing from databases for immigrants who have pending deportation notices or who are fugitive criminals.

The report by the DHS Office of Inspector General was released on September 8.