U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, issued the following statement regarding the news that the Department of Homeland Security mistakenly granted citizenship to nearly a thousand individuals who were slated for deportation. In a few cases, individuals also received special access to the most secure areas of airports. Two individuals were referred to the FBI for links to terrorism. 

"This is a picture of total incompetence. Nearly a thousand people who were supposed to be deported were instead given citizenship and a few of them were given access to the most secure parts of airports. A bureaucracy that blunders so badly is one that doesn’t take our national security seriously."



Background:

This morning, the DHS Inspector General revealed that at least 858 people have been given U.S. citizenship, despite having been ordered to be deported. These individuals were naturalized using fake names, however DHS was not able to spot the fake names because it could not locate fingerprint records matching those names. Since 2008, DHS has attempted to digitize paper fingerprint records, but has not completed the process.

According to Inspector General John Roth’s report:

  • At least 858 people were given U.S. citizenship despite final orders of deportation;

    Of the 858 people:
  • 1 is now a law enforcement officer,
  • 1 was given TWIC, a security credential allowing unescorted access to ports and ships,
  • 2 were given security clearances allowing access to the most sensitive areas in airports, and
  • 2 were referred by ICE to the FBI for links to terrorism.
  • An additional 953 people were naturalized despite having final orders of deportation, but it was unclear if the fingerprint records had been digitized before or after naturalization (meaning the number could be between 858 and 1,811);

  • 148,000 people with final deportation orders still do not have electronic fingerprint records, meaning the problem may continue if uncorrected;

  • To date, ICE has referred only 120 people to DOJ as priorities for possible denaturalization.

The DHS OIG report can be found here