Yesterday, Ed noted a mistake by the Department of Homeland Security that led to 858 immigrants who should have been deported being granted citizenship instead. 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.
Today, Jake Tapper at CNN reports the 858 number reported yesterday was actually less than half the actual number of immigrants granted citizenship. CNN reports the additional accidental citizens were mentioned in a footnote to the IG report:
A reason for the underplaying of the number may have been the report’s focus, which was whether the US Citizenship and Immigration Services was using digital fingerprints effectively. The Inspector General determined that the agency granted citizenship to 858 individuals who had been ordered deported or removed under another identity but “their digital fingerprint records were not available” during the naturalization process.
But a footnote on page one of the report also states that there were, as of November 2015, an additional 953 individuals about whom the Inspector General couldn’t determine if there was a problem with the fingerprint records specifically, but also should have been deported.
So what is the total number of people from “countries of concern” granted citizenship? Here’s what the first page of the IG report says [emphasis added]:
In July 2014, OPS provided the Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the names of individuals it had identified as coming from special interest countries or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud, had final deportation orders under another identity, and had become naturalized U.S. citizens. OIG’s review of the list of names revealed some were duplicates, which resulted in a final number of 1,029 individuals. Of the 1,029 individuals reported, 858 did not have a digital fingerprint record available in the DHS fingerprint repository at the time U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was reviewing and adjudicating their applications for U.S. citizenship.
The footnote reads, “As of November 2015, OPS had identified 953 more individuals who had final deportation orders under another identity and had been naturalized….” So it seems to me DHS identified 1,029 people in 2014 and then another 953 by the end of 2015. That’s a total of 1,982 individuals who had become citizens despite final deportation orders “under another identity.”
The initial AP report noted that three of the people wrongly granted citizenship, “were able to acquire aviation or transportation worker credentials, granting them access to secure areas in airports or maritime facilities and vessels.”
This seems like precisely the kind of lapse in security the Obama administration has claimed is impossible because of the multiple layers of checks they perform. But if nearly 2,000 people could be granted citizenship while they had final deportation orders under alternate identities, it’s hard to take the administration’s assurances about the reliability of the process too seriously.