Remember when the 9/11 Commission and Congress insisted on conglomerating several bureaucracies into the Department of Homeland Security for efficiency? Keep that in mind when reading about the latest lowlight in government competence from DHS, courtesy of the Associated Press. Not only did the massive Cabinet department fail to coordinate properly on tracking over 800 illegal immigrants, many of whom had outstanding deportation warrants, they gave them American citizenship.
And guess where many originated?
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.
How did they miss them? Er …
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.
Say what? Wasn’t this precisely the kind of inefficiency that the DHS consolidation was supposed to end a decade ago? The 858 illegals are just a drop in a 315,000-person bucket, as it turns out:
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.
Did DHS officials just discover this problem? Not exactly:
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.
Why aren’t DHS officials making this a priority? That may not be entirely their fault. The Department of Justice has declined prosecuting cases of immigration fraud, as it turns out. The AP’s Alicia Caldwell discovered that they took just two of 28 initial cases recommended for prosecution, and they have another 32 investigations in progress. However, their efforts are only directed to those who have tried to get security clearances based on their fraudulent citizenship rather than broadly pursue the fraud.
Over and over again, the Obama administration has insisted that the borders are secure and that they take immigration control seriously. Instead, we keep discovering that they have no interest in pursuing illegal immigration, even when it involves fraud, and that they’re not even interested in fixing the systems that could prevent fraud. At the same time, they accuse those who don’t trust the federal government on immigration of being bigots and conspiracy theorists. Small wonder that populism has emerged as a strong political force in 2016. That’s just another sad legacy from Barack Obama.