In response to a scathing report released last month by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG), Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) has introduced H.R. 6198. This commonsense bill would ensure that ineligible, potentially dangerous individuals are not granted citizenship while DHS works to fully digitize its fingerprint records.
Specifically, the IG revealed that at least 858 individuals were granted citizenship despite having a final deportation order under another identity. While the report does not reveal the names of the immigrants or the countries of origin, the IG said that they are all from countries that are of concern to the national security of the United States or have high rates of immigration fraud. The report found that this egregious mistake occurred because neither the digital fingerprint repository at DHS nor the repository at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) contains all old fingerprint records of individuals who were previously deported. The IG report further noted that approximately 148,000 fingerprint records of individuals from “special interest countries” who had final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives have yet to be digitized.
At the recommendation of the IG, DHS has indicated that it is currently taking steps to digitize its fingerprint records. However, until the digitization of fingerprint records is complete, 148,000 individuals who are supposed to be deported could still be naturalized. In a time of heightened concern about terrorism, the risk posed by this possibility is far too great. In fact, the IG report identified that individuals who were naturalized mistakenly have even gone on to hold jobs in national security positions.
H.R. 6198 would prohibit United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from naturalizing any individual until the remaining paper-based fingerprint records are uploaded into the DHS digital fingerprint repository known as IDENT. Importantly, the bill would not prohibit those eligible from applying for naturalization or stop DHS from reviewing applications, even though the actual naturalization will be prevented until the fingerprint database is complete. The bill would also require DHS to refer cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for civil proceedings when they have knowledge that an individual was naturalized mistakenly. This provision ensures that any mistakes made by DHS can be swiftly corrected.
To learn more about the DHS IG report and this important piece of legislation, take a moment and listen to FAIR’s interview with Rep. Culberson: