Why Now? Why is the Federal Government Focusing on Denaturalization Cases?

Efforts to denaturalize individuals are not new even though the USCIS office is. In 2010, a DHS task force started to identify individuals who should have been barred from naturalization. Although USCIS checks applicants’ fingerprints against both the DHS and the FBI digital fingerprint repositories when processing naturalization applications, older fingerprint records had not been digitized (some 315,000 records), including about 148,000 fingerprint records of individuals ordered deported or who had criminal records. This created a possibility that those individuals could have naturalized under an alternate identity, and ICE has begun to digitize the older fingerprint records.

In 2016, the DHS Office of Inspector General found at least 858 cases of people who were ordered deported or removed but later obtained U.S. citizenship using an alternate identity because their fingerprint records had not been digitized.

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