An internal review of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed that over 850 immigrants from nations that have national security risks, or high levels of immigration fraud, were granted citizenship by mistake, according to The Associated Press.
The report found applicants used different names to apply and got through cross referencing because DHS is missing their fingerprint data.
The Associated Press reports:
The report does not identify any of the immigrants by name, but Inspector General John Roth’s auditors said they were all from “special interest countries” — those that present a national security concern for the United States — or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud. The report did not identify those countries.
In an emailed statement, the Department of Homeland Security said the findings reflect what has long been a problem for immigration officials — old paper-based records containing fingerprint information that can’t be searched electronically. DHS says immigration officials are in the process of uploading these files and that officials will review “every file” identified as a case of possible fraud.
The report also states the government has known about the information gap and its impact on naturalization decisions since at least 2008. Because the mistake has existed since 2008, it’s possible the report could be underestimating the total amount of immigrants mistakenly granted citizenship.
In some cases, the immigrants were able to acquire aviation or transportation worker credentials, granting them access to secure areas in airports or maritime facilities and vessels.
DHS has retroactively revoked the mistaken immigrants’ credentials following the release of the internal review. The DHS is now working to fix the changes that allowed this security concern to fester.
(H/T: Associated Press)