Tuesday, December 5, 2006

CNN Lou Dobbs - video:U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Loses Thousands of Applicants' Background Files U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been citizen applications even without having all background information available. Thousands of applicants' primary files have simply been lost. In 2002, U.S. immigration officials granted citizenship to a man even though they could not find his background file. His application was stamped "approved." It was discovered later he had ties to the radical Islamist terrorist group Hezbollah. Now a new GAO report says U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may have given American citizenship to as many as 30,000 people whose background files were also missing. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said: "It really alarms me that the agency did not have the background information on these individuals. That means that individuals who may have connections to terrorist groups were awarded citizenship without a thorough review of the information in their files." Terrorists, criminals or people who simply were not eligible could have made their way through this gaping hole. The problem is U.S. CIS still relies on a paper system. The GAO found the immigration agency has lost track of more than 111,000 files. Technology is not the only issue. Critics charge the agency pressures its employees to reduce backlogs and meet quotas instead of focusing on the quality of the screening. Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA said: "All the adjudicators at USCIS were given $500 cash bonuses if they met their quotas, and each office was given money from headquarters to have a party because they had allegedly succeeded with backlog elimination by meeting their quotas."