Administration Opens First Denaturalization Office!

The Department of Homeland Security opened a new office focused only on stripping U.S citizenship from naturalized citizens who lied or committed immigration fraud. This stems from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal investigation that identified about 315,000 cases where fingerprint data was missing from the centralized digital fingerprint repository.

The Office of Inspector General investigated whether the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) used fingerprint records during the naturalization process. What they found was that USCIS wrongly granted at least 858 individuals ordered deported or removed under another identity U.S citizenship because their fingerprints were not available. The fingerprints were not available because although the USCIS procedure requires that they review both DHS and FBI digital fingerprint database, neither system contained all old fingerprints. When DHS developed its digital fingerprint database, not all fingerprint records were digitized. USCIS has identified about 148,000 older fingerprint records that have not been digitized. USCIS officers reviewing naturalization applications therefore did not have the necessary information to effectively adjudicate these applications resulting in immigrants obtaining naturalized citizenship where they may not have been eligible.

Immigrants may apply for naturalization if they were lawfully admitted for permanent residence, have continued residence and physical presence in the United States, and good moral character. During the naturalization process, USCI may determine that an alien who lies under oath about their identity or immigration history does not have the required good moral character requirement. Those with deportation or removal orders may not meet the admissibility requirement, unless DHS has approved a waiver. During the naturalization interview, the immigrant is required to reveal any other identities that they have used and their full immigration history. The immigration officer has the ability to refer a file to the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for investigation. ICE, in turn, may refer the file to Department of Justice for revocation of citizenship and possible deportation.

Due to the Office of Inspector General’s investigation, the Trump administration opened an office to review these cases and determine which files should be referred to federal court. On January 5, 2018, a New Jersey Federal judge entered the first order revoking the naturalized citizenship rom these efforts. Baljinder Singh aka Davinder Singh was the defendant in that case. He entered the United States without any identification documents. He claimed his name was Davinder. He was placed in removal proceedings, where he failed to appear to his immigration hearing. As a result, he was ordered deported. In turn, Mr. Singh filed an asylum application under the name of Baljinger and later obtained his green card and U.S citizenship under that name without informing DHS of his dual identity.

DHS is focused on reviewing old files to catch those who lied during their naturalization interview. If you are a current U.S citizen, DHS may review your file and refer it for further review if it determines that there is possible identity of immigration fraud.

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