Somebody will be dropping a lot of "my bads" to his or her boss after an internal Homeland Security audit found that at least 858 immigrants were mistakenly granted citizenship from the U.S. government.
According to the Associated Press, the immigrants were from "countries of concern to national security or with high rates of immigration fraud who had pending deportation orders," though the specific countries were not named. When they applied with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the individuals had used different names or birthdays, according to the Homeland Security Department's inspector general. The immigrants weren't busted by the government for their discrepancies because their fingerprints weren't in the government's databases.
With that said, the Department of Homeland Security notes that some of the immigrants might have actually been qualified for citizenship, since the lack of digital fingerprint records doesn't necessarily mean that the individuals committed fraud, according to the Associated Press.
The DHS admits that this shows a larger problem for officials—the fact that many of the older paper-based records with fingerprint info can't be searched electronically—but that immigration authorities are working on uploading the files now and that they'll review "every file" of those flagged as possible frauds.
In fact, the problem expands beyond these 800 immigrants. Federal databases don't have the fingerprints of as many as 315,000 immigrants who are fugitive criminals and/or have deportation orders; furthermore, Immigration and Customs Enforcement hasn't even reviewed nearly 150,000 of those immigrants' files to add the fingerprints to the digital record. Back in the 1990s, before the Department of Homeland Security was created, the old paper records weren't added to the new digital databases. ICE, formed in 2003, didn't even consistently add digital fingerprint records until 2010.
Of the immigrants mistakenly granted citizenship, at least three of them were able to get aviation and transportation worker credentials, thereby allowing them to secure areas in airports and docks. Another immigrant is now a law enforcement officer.