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Citizenship Fraud? New Immigration Office Threatens To Strip Thousands Of US Nationality

The US agency overseeing immigration applications has launched a new office that will look into Americans who might have lied during their naturalization process.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Some naturalized immigrants may be in danger of losing their citizenship.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is launching a new office whose goal will be to identify citizens who may have cheated the system, the Associated Press reports.

The new Los Angeles-based office will review cases of immigrants who may have been previously deported but later used a different identity to gain citizenship. The cases will then be referred to the Justice Department, which will have the option of having the person stripped of their U.S. citizenship or even hit with criminal charges related to fraud, the wire service reported.

Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told AP that the new office, expected to be up and running by next year, will be staffed by several dozen lawyers and immigration officers.

“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,” Cissna said. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

Fingerprints may be key in many cases of suspected fraud. According to CNN, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been working since the Obama administration to place more than 300,000 fingerprint records into a searchable system. Those records can then be checked against applications to effectively identify those who may have been previously deported, even if their fingerprints weren't in the system at the time that they secured citizenship.

“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,” Cissna told AP. “It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them.”

[Photo: A protestor dressed as Lady Liberty marches on June 14, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. By Mario Tama/Staff, via Getty Images]