The Political Insider

EXCLUSIVE: New USCIS Office Investigating Thousands Who Got US Citizenship Through Identity Fraud


Will Racke on June 12, 2018

A new government office created to investigate bogus naturalization applications estimates there are at least 3,000 cases of aliens who used false identities to obtain U.S. citizenship, federal officials told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The office, housed inside U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has identified the potential fraud cases as a part of its ongoing review of more than 300,000 fingerprint records uploaded to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database beginning in 2014.

Based on the review to date, officials could uncover more than 3,000 instances where an ineligible alien assumed another identity and used it to become a U.S. citizen, USCIS associate director for field operations Daniel Renaud told TheDCNF Tuesday in an interview.

The targeted review stems from a 2016 DHS inspector general report that found roughly 315,000 old fingerprint records for people who had been deported or had criminal convictions had not been uploaded to a DHS database of immigrants’ identities. As immigration authorities enrolled the paper records into the DHS system, they discovered hundreds of cases where an alien with an order of removal under one name had been naturalized under another identity.

The records in question were taken by the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1990s and early 200os, before DHS’s biometric database — IDENT — was created. Because the fingerprints were not subsequently added to IDENT, it would have been much easier for a previously deported or otherwise ineligible alien to successfully obtain immigration benefits with a fake identity, Renaud explained.

Immigration authorities have reviewed 167,000 of the formerly missing records to date, and about 2,000 of them matched names of people who have naturalized, according to USCIS officials. Of that number, an estimated 1,600 — or 80 percent — of the naturalizations appear to be fraudulent. If that rate holds, USCIS estimates there will be another 1,400 to 1,600 naturalization fraud cases within the second batch of 148,000 fingerprint records, Renaud said.

USCIS Director Francis Cissna revealed the creation of a special office to deal with the potential crush of cases in an interviewwith the Associated Press published on Monday. The office will fall under the agency’s Los Angeles district and is expected to comprise dozens of attorneys and immigration officers with years of experience handling naturalization cases.

“The new USCIS office in southern California will serve as a centralized location to review and initiate the civil denaturalization process against individuals who had been ordered removed and intentionally used multiple identities in order to defraud the government and the American people to obtain citizenship,” USCIS spokesman Michael Bars said in a statement.

The new office builds on the work of a similar unit that USCIS set up in its Los Angeles field office in January 2017. Although that team of about a dozen officials ...

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