U.S. to Launch Office to Identify People Who Got Fake Citizenship
The Department of Justice would be referred these cases and their attorneys could look at removing the immigrants’ citizenship in the proceedings of the civil court.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is going to launch an office in Los Angeles that will concentrate on recognizing Americans who are suspected of using deceitful means to avail U.S. citizenship, the Associated Press reported.
“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. What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases,” USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna was quoted as saying by the news agency.
Immigrants who go on to become U.S. citizens get the right to vote, serve on juries and get security clearance. Denaturalization is quite a rare incident where the citizenship is removed.
Cissna added that the USCIS is recruiting many lawyers and immigration officers to assess cases of immigrants who were ordered to be deported, and are suspected of using fraudulent identities to avail green cards and citizenship later through naturalization.
The Department of Justice would be referred these cases. Their attorneys could then look at removing the immigrants’ citizenship in the proceedings of the civil court. In some instances, the government attorneys could also bring criminal charges associated with fraud, Cissna said, according to the report.
So far, the agency has been pursuing cases as and when they came up, but it was not through a coordinated effort, Cissna said. He added that he hoped the new office of the agency will start operating by next year. However, inspecting and referring cases for prosecution could take longer.
Earlier this year, Baljinder Singh, a naturalized American citizen of Indian origin, became the first person to be stripped of his citizenship under the Donald Trump administration. According to the petition filed by the Department of Justice in September 2017, Singh had concealed prior orders of exclusion and his deportation that were passed against him, and assumed a different identity that was used for naturalization in his citizenship application.
Cissna pointed out that the U.S. government is not keen on pursuing cases with minor discrepancies. It instead wants to target people who knowingly altered their identities to con officials to avail benefits. “The people who are going to be targeted by this — they know full well who they are because they were ordered removed under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on. It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them,” Cissna added.
The justice department has filed 305 civil denaturalization cases since 1990, according to statistics obtained by Matthew Hoppock, an immigration attorney in Kansas, who has been defending immigrants in these cases, the news agency reported.
The USCIS received over 5,000 complaints of H-1B visa fraud and abuse as of May 21, 2018 on the email helpline that was launched by the Trump administration last year.