Searching for citizenship cheaters

There’s one area of immigration-related crime which doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as illegal border crossings. There have been numerous instances of illegal aliens, including some who have previously been detained and deported, who have used fake or stolen identification to apply for green cards and eventually citizenship. While not a rampant problem, it happens, and those who are found guilty can have their naturalization revoked and even be prosecuted on charges of fraud. Now a new office is being set up inside of immigration services to detect, investigate and prosecute such “cheaters.” (Washington Times)

The U.S. government agency that oversees immigration applications is launching an office that will focus on identifying Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna told The Associated Press in an interview that his agency is hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalization.

Cissna said the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, whose attorneys could then seek to remove the immigrants’ citizenship in civil court proceedings. In some cases, government attorneys could bring criminal charges related to fraud.

At this point, it doesn’t sound as if the problem is particularly widespread. The government first began seriously looking at fraudulent naturalization cases back in 2006 and detected roughly 200 such instances. Current estimates hold that there are, “potentially a few thousand cases” out there yet to be discovered. Of course, we have no way of knowing if that’s accurate because, by the time somebody has already taken the oath and become a citizen under their new name, there’s not much to go on. They’re free to blend into society and begin building a full, legal profile. For all we know there could be ten times that many who have managed it.

Establishing a new office dedicated solely to this problem will hopefully streamline their efforts. The ability to share information among immigration enforcement officials across the country could make the detective work requires at least somewhat easier. What might also help would be some sort of tip-line so citizens noticing somebody who suddenly starts using a new name and coming out of the shadows could report them for investigation.

On the plus side, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services claims that this can all be done out of the current budget for the department by relocating resources to one centralized location. That’s going to make it an easier pill to swallow and prevent Democrats from holding up any new funding requests. We’ll put a flag on this new office and keep an eye on how productive they wind up being.