Three months before he and his brother detonated two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon — killing three and wounding more than 260 people — Tamerlan Tsarnaev passed the test to become a U.S. citizen, according to the Boston Globe.
The heavily redacted Immigration records obtained by the Boston Globe via a Freedom of Information Act request detail Tsarnaev’s path to attempted citizenship and his friend, Ibragim Todashev’s, path to a green card. Todashev confessed to killing three people with Tsarnaev in a separate incident. Like Tsarnaev, Todashev was also killed by authorities.
Tsarnaev’s brother Dzhokhar has been sentenced to death for the Boston bombing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2012.
“US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) commitment to national security is shared inside and outside of the Department of Homeland Security,” USCIS said in a statement to the Globe.“While USCIS found no errors in the processing of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s or Ibragim Todashev’s applications, we are always seeking to strengthen our very intensive screening processes.”
The files, according to the Globe, are 651 pages only 206 of which have not been redacted, leaving more questions about why either men were granted access to U.S.
If federal officials raised security concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev or Todashev, they did not disclose them in the heavily redacted immigration files. Instead, the files sketch a portrait of Tsarnaev and Todashev, both ethnic Chechens from Russia, as men struggling with unemployment and poverty while trying to cement their ties to the United States, Tsarnaev through citizenship and Todashev through a green card. They had so little income that the government waived their immigration application fees, officials said.
Both Tsarnaev and Todashev had criminal records. Tsarnaev for domestic assault and Todashev for a “criminal road-rage incident.” Todashev, according to the Globe was eventually granted a green card. Tsarnaev’s application for citizenship was held following his U.S. citizenship test, due to his criminal history.
“All that stood between him and US citizenship was a supervisor’s approval, which was required, and a final swearing-in ceremony,” the Globe reported.