The Office of the Inspector General has issued a report that determined that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved applications for naturalization for at least 858 individuals who committed fraud or a material misrepresentation by failing to disclose that they had been previously ordered deported or removed under another identity. The error was blamed on the unavailability of digital fingerprint records.

The following explanation was given:

The digital records were not available because although USCIS procedures require checking applicants’ fingerprints against both the Department of Homeland Security’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) digital fingerprint repositories,neither contains all old fingerprint records. Not all old records were included in the DHS repository when it was being developed. Further, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has identified, about 148,000 older fingerprint records that have not been digitized of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives. The FBI repository is also missing records because, in the past, not all records taken during immigration encounters were forwarded to the FBI. As long as the older fingerprint records have not been digitized and included in the repositories, USCIS risks making naturalization decisions without complete information and,as a result, naturalizing additional individuals who may be ineligible for citizenship or who may be trying to obtain U.S.citizenship fraudulently.

As naturalized citizens, these individuals retain many of the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship, including serving in law enforcement, obtaining a security clearance, and sponsoring other aliens’ entry into the United States. ICE has investigated few of these naturalized citizens to determine whether they should be denaturalized, but is now taking steps to increase the number of cases to be investigated, particularly those who hold positions of public trust and who have security clearances.

Click here to read the full report and the recommendations.