Naturalization of Aliens:

Assessment of the Extent to Which Aliens Were Improperly Naturalized

T-GGD-97-51: Published: Mar 5, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 1997.

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GAO discussed the extent to which the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) might have improperly naturalized aliens between September 1995, and September 1996.

GAO noted that: (1) between September 1995 and September 1996, INS received about 1.3 million naturalization applications and almost 1.05 million aliens were naturalized; (2) during that period, INS initiated a number of efforts to streamline the naturalization process; (3) while these efforts greatly increased the volume of applications processed and approved, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has identified errors in the naturalization process; (4) concerns have been raised that INS may have improperly naturalized aliens with felony convictions; (5) for example, for about 180,000 aliens applying for naturalization, INS did not receive the results of a criminal history records check from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), even though aliens with criminal history records, e.g., certain felony convictions, may be barred from becoming naturalized citizens; (6) this might have resulted in some aliens with criminal felony convictions improperly becoming naturalized citizens; (7) changes in the naturalization process to address this problem have since been made; (8) according to DOJ, of the almost 1.05 million aliens who were naturalized between September 1995 and September 1996, two significant groups include 71,557 aliens who had criminal history records with the FBI and 179,524 aliens whose fingerprint cards were unclassifiable by the FBI or whose records for other reasons may not have been checked by the FBI for their criminal history; (9) DOJ's Justice Management Division (JMD) and INS are reviewing records to determine the extent to which aliens were improperly naturalized; (10) JMD has contracted with KPMG Peat Marwick LLP (Peat Marwick) to assist in overseeing this determination; (11) Peat Marwick is to perform a number of tasks intended to assess INS' determination of the extent to which criminal aliens were erroneously naturalized; and (12) the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice and the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims have asked GAO to assess the soundness of Peat Marwick's methodologies for carrying out these tasks and its plans for implementing these methodologies.

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