At least 858 individuals who had previously been ordered deported or removed from the U.S. under another names have been granted citizenship due to incomplete fingerprint records within Homeland Security and the FBI, according to an Inspector General report.
Neither the digital fingerprint repository at DHS or at the FBI contained all old fingerprint records of individuals previously deported. This enabled some of people to apply for citizenship under another name and in some cases even receive security clearance for jobs at airports.
In the report, “Potentially Ineligible Individuals Have Been Granted U.S. Citizenship Because of Incomplete Fingerprint Records,” the inspector general found that the records are missing from the DHS digital repository because paper-based fingerprint cards used prior to 2008 were not consistently digitized and uploaded into the repository.
The FBI repository is also missing records because, in the past, fingerprints collected during immigration enforcement encounters were not always forwarded to the FBI. Currently, about 148,000 fingerprint records of aliens from special interest countries who had final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives have yet to be digitized.
Incomplete digital fingerprint records hinder the full review of naturalization applications and may lead to granting the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship to those who may be ineligible or may be trying to obtain citizenship fraudulently. The inspector general learned that at least three individuals who became naturalized citizens after having been deported under a different identity had obtained credentials to conduct security-sensitive work at commercial airports or maritime facilities and vessels. Since being identified, all have had their credentials revoked.
To remedy the situation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is updating all the fingerprint records and reviewing records to make sure naturalized citizens are eligible to be in the country.