Under the Obama administration, 1,811 aliens from terrorist countries were granted U.S. citizenship instead of being deported—and the Obama administration ended the program that uncovered the extensive fraud.
Originally, the Associated Press reported that the aliens’ fingerprints were not in searchable government databases, allowing them to apply for citizenship under different names and birthdays.
The scope of the problem is massive: “Fingerprints are missing from federal databases for as many as 315,000 immigrants with final deportation orders or who are fugitive criminals,” the Associated Press stated. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not reviewed about 148,000 of those immigrants’ files to add fingerprints to the digital record.”
Three of the aliens under final deportation orders who were granted citizenship gained access to secure commercial airliner areas and maritime facilities. Another is working as a law enforcement officer.
But the Obama administration shut down that program, the Office of Inspector General found:
In 2016, OPS [Office of Operations Coordination] eliminated Operation Janus and disbanded its staff, which raises concerns about the future ability of ICE [U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] and USCIS to continue identifying and prioritizing individuals for investigation. Since 2010 and until recently, Operation Janus identified these individuals, created watchlist entries to ensure law enforcement and immigration officials were aware of them, and coordinated DHS and other agencies’ activities related to these individuals. Two DHS employees outside of OPS said that without Operation Janus, it would be difficult to coordinate these cases and combat immigration fraud perpetrated by individuals using multiple identities. We received this information late in our review and cannot assess the future impact of this change.
ICE didn’t consistently log the digital fingerprints of illegal aliens their agents found until 2010—and federal prosecutors have repeatedly declined criminal cases that could end in the aliens being stripped of their citizenship.
The implications were not lost on one DHS whistleblower.
“If the Department of Homeland Security was serious about this, they would not have shut down the program that discovered this lapse in the first place,” whistleblower Philip Haney said on Fox and Friends Tuesday. “They say they’re addressing it, but they shut the program down that originally discovered it. It’s hard to effectively address it. But they say they have recommendations that the agencies are following, and they’re expecting a follow-up report.”
Haney believed that “high-level fraud” took place: “These individuals are from countries of concern, for terrorists. All of them. The report makes that quite plain. If you come to a law enforcement officer, and you don’t have your complete records, your fingerprints in particular, that could halt the process right there. How people came into the country, either legally or illegally, and accidentally gained citizenship is an impossible concept to me, as a law enforcement officer.”