More than 800 immigrants mistakenly granted citizenship

An internal Homeland Security Department audit released Monday found the 858 immigrants came from countries that pose a national security risk to the United States or countries with high rates of immigration fraud.

The report warned that when immigrants become naturalized, "these individuals retain numerous rights and privileges of USA citizenship, including serving in law enforcement, obtaining a security clearance, and sponsoring other aliens' entry into the United States".

The 858 cases involved people from so-called "special interest" countries, or from neighboring countries with major immigration fraud problems.

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.

"ICE has plans to digitize and upload all available fingerprint records, and the Department has told us it plans to review the eligibility of each naturalized citizen whose fingerprint records reveal a deportation order under a different identity", Roth added.

It's apparently because Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is supposed to find and deport illegal aliens, didn't add the fingerprint records in a timely way. However, DHS said that the lack of fingerprints doesn't mean that the immigrants committed fraud.

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The inspector general report could further fuel warnings about immigration security.

The report said two criminal cases were launched because of the mishandling of the information, but prosecutors would not even take another 26 cases.

At least three of those who were mistakenly granted citizenship were able to use their citizenship to get jobs in security-sensitive fields, including work at commercial airports and maritime facilities.

Investigators past year identified another 953 cases that also appear suspicious. Their credentials were revoked after it was discovered that they had been granted citizenship improperly, according to the report.

DHS said the agency is working to review the cases, add the paper-based fingerprints to the databases, and create a system for immigration officials to evaluate people who've been mistakenly granted citizenship. Another immigrant-turned-citizen from a country of concern is now a law enforcement officer.

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