NOVEMBER 29, 2006
The government agency responsible for granting immigrants permission to live in the United States legally has lost thousands of crucial alien background files used to determine eligibility as well as deportation.
The Alien files (also known as A-files) are a key to approving an immigrant’s U.S. citizenship yet the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 30,000 applications for aliens with missing A-files. The USCIS is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for processing non citizens’ applications to live or work in the U.S. or to become a citizen.
Every foreigner who applies to live in the country legally gets an A-file that, among other things, includes a criminal background history that is utilized in Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations to determine if an alien should be removed from the U.S. It has proven to be an effective tool for a variety of local law enforcement agencies as well.
Yet the government has lost more than 100,000 of these files, according to a new Congressional investigative report that details the negligence. Investigators found that 14 USCIS offices throughout the country are missing 110,000 A-files and that immigration officials granted citizenship to thousands last year, despite the lost files.
Additionally, the report says that immigration officials don’t record when they actually consult an A-file so many more could be lost. The 29-page report features informative charts and offers detailed data on specific USCIS field offices, such as the massive one in Los Angeles.
This investigation was launched because a few years ago the government granted U.S. citizenship to a suspected terrorist without checking his A-file because it had been lost. Also, several of the September 11 hijackers who had entered the country legally with student visas remained in the country because they got “lost in the system.”
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