More than 800 immigrants mistakenly granted citizenship - KCTV5

More than 800 immigrants mistakenly granted citizenship

Posted: Updated:
Immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren’t caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren’t caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -

The U.S. government has mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants from countries of concern to national security or with high rates of immigration fraud who had pending deportation orders, according to an internal Homeland Security audit released Monday.

The Homeland Security Department's inspector general found that the immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren't caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases.

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.

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.

DHS 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.

Roth's report said fingerprints are missing from federal databases for as many as 315,000 immigrants with final deportation orders or who are fugitive criminals. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not reviewed about 148,000 of those immigrants' files to add fingerprints to the digital record.

The gap was created because older, paper records were never added to fingerprint databases created by both the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service and the FBI in the 1990s. ICE, the DHS agency responsible for finding and deporting immigrants living in the country illegally, didn't consistently add digital fingerprint records of immigrants whom agents encountered until 2010.

The government has known about the information gap and its impact on naturalization decisions since at least 2008 when a Customs and Border Protection official identified 206 immigrants who used a different name or other biographical information to gain citizenship or other immigration benefits, though few cases have been investigated.

Roth's report said federal prosecutors have accepted two criminal cases that led to the immigrants being stripped of their citizenship. But prosecutors declined another 26 cases.

ICE is investigating 32 other cases after closing 90 investigations.

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." ICE said the Justice Department has now agreed to focus on cases involving people who have acquired security clearances, jobs of public trust or other security credentials.

Mistakenly awarding citizenship to someone ordered deported can have serious consequences because U.S. citizens can typically apply for and receive security clearances or take security-sensitive jobs.

At least three of the immigrants-turned-citizens were able to acquire aviation or transportation worker credentials, granting them access to secure areas in airports or maritime facilities and vessels.

Their credentials were revoked after they were identified as having been granted citizenship improperly, Roth said in his report.

A fourth person is now a law enforcement officer.

Roth recommended that all of the outstanding cases be reviewed and fingerprints in those cases be added to the government's database and that immigration enforcement officials create a system to evaluate each of the cases of immigrants who were improperly granted citizenship. DHS officials agreed with the recommendations and said the agency is working to implement the changes.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Health Department investigating Independence theatre after video goes viral

    Health Department investigating Independence theatre after video goes viral

    Wednesday, January 17 2018 10:20 PM EST2018-01-18 03:20:57 GMT
    Kelli RedfordKelli Redford
    A woman says she was disgusted at what she found inside an Independence movie theatre.  The Health Department is investigating the AMC 20 after a video she posted went viral on Facebook.  In the video, she scans the aisles with her flashlight on, revealing grimy, stained seats. She shared the video on AMC's Facebook page and called the health department. The AMC 20 at Independence Commons is the same theater that had a report of bed bugs just last October. The health dep...More >
    A woman says she was disgusted at what she found inside an Independence movie theatre.  The Health Department is investigating the AMC 20 after a video she posted went viral on Facebook.  In the video, she scans the aisles with her flashlight on, revealing grimy, stained seats. She shared the video on AMC's Facebook page and called the health department. The AMC 20 at Independence Commons is the same theater that had a report of bed bugs just last October. The health dep...More >
  • 1 dead, 1 hurt after double shooting in Northland

    1 dead, 1 hurt after double shooting in Northland

    Thursday, January 18 2018 7:53 AM EST2018-01-18 12:53:43 GMT
    The shooting happened at about 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 3800 block of N Kensington Avenue. (KCTV5)The shooting happened at about 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 3800 block of N Kensington Avenue. (KCTV5)

    Police in the Northland are investigating a shooting that has killed one person and put another in the hospital. It happened at about 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 3800 block of N Kensington Avenue.

    More >

    Police in the Northland are investigating a shooting that has killed one person and put another in the hospital. It happened at about 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 3800 block of N Kensington Avenue.

    More >
  • Authorities investigate 2 separate road rage cases in Johnson County

    Authorities investigate 2 separate road rage cases in Johnson County

    Wednesday, January 17 2018 11:25 PM EST2018-01-18 04:25:12 GMT
    Chopper 5Chopper 5

    Police are investigating after gunshots were fired at a vehicle on westbound Interstate 435 just west of Mission Road.  The Overland Park Police Department says it's investigating it as a road rage incident.  The victim was not injured, but had to pull off the highway onto Roe Avenue from I-435.  The shots were fired around 5:10 p.m. on Wednesday evening.  Police say the suspect was driving a white Pontiac with temporary tags.  This is a developing story....

    More >

    Police are investigating after gunshots were fired at a vehicle on westbound Interstate 435 just west of Mission Road.  The Overland Park Police Department says it's investigating it as a road rage incident.  The victim was not injured, but had to pull off the highway onto Roe Avenue from I-435.  The shots were fired around 5:10 p.m. on Wednesday evening.  Police say the suspect was driving a white Pontiac with temporary tags.  This is a developing story....

    More >
Powered by Frankly
KCTV 5 News

Online Public File:
KCTV  KSMO

Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KCTV; Kansas City, MO. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.