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Immigrant Fingerprint Archive Will Be Scanned To Revoke Citizenship From Fraudulent Applicants

Investigators will digitize fingerprints of immigrants that date back to the 1990s, which accounts for an estimated 315,000 prints.

While the Trump Administration continues to play tug of war with undocumented families, there’s another immigration issue brewing. On June 12, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it was launching a new agency that focuses on repealing naturalization citizenship from people who have committed fraud on their application, The Associated Press reports.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place,” USCIS director L. Francis Cissna told the AP. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

Cissna says that one of the reasons they were prompted to start this new agency was because they were informed of 858 instances in which possible fraud could have occurred on a citizenship application.

While the USCIS has reported cases of fraud by citizenship applicants in the past, the agency has not existed with such a strong focus in previous years.

For example, immigration attorney Matthew Hoppock told The Washington Post that the Justice Department has only filed 305 denaturalization cases since the 1990s. But now, under the Trump administration, as Cissna noted, they are planning on prosecuting thousands of cases. Cissna said they have hired dozens of lawyers and immigration officers to handle the caseload.

Photo by Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images.

Searching the archives

According to The Washington Post, Homeland Security investigators will digitize fingerprints that date back to the 1990s, which accounts for an estimated 315,000 fingerprints. They will compare the prints of people who have been deported and compare them with people who have become naturalized U.S. citizens under a different name. Those cases will then be prosecuted, and it will be up to a judge to decide whether or not that person will get their U.S. citizenship revoked.

“Nobody who obtained U.S. citizenship by deliberately assuming a false identity will be surprised to learn they are being referred to the Justice Department for removal proceedings,” USCIS spokesman Michael Bars said to CNN. “USCIS screens for deliberate acts of fraud relating to the use of false identities.”

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Why the sudden new and especially public focus?[/quote]

Family and friends speak to each other through the U.S.-Mexico border Nov. 18, 2017, in San Ysidro, California. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images.

Convenient timing

As of now, USCIS reports they are investigating 2,536 cases of citizenship fraud, and 95 have already been taken up with the Justice Department.

Ur Jaddou, who is a director at pro-immigration advocacy group America’s Voice and a former chief counsel for USCIS, told CNN that he questions the motives behind new heightened alert.

“Under this administration, this denaturalization effort doesn’t feel like a good government ensuring integrity,” Jaddou said to CNN. “That was already happening before this administration. … So, it begs the question, why the sudden new and especially public focus?”

This move by the government is just the latest in a slew of ways immigration officials are targeting U.S. citizens.

There have been hundreds of cases in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has wrongfully detained U.S. citizens. The recent detainment of a 62-year-old Mexican and 47-year-old Filipino show that green card holders are also vulnerable for deportation due to minor convictions that date back decades.

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