Naturalized Aliens:

Efforts to Determine If INS Improperly Naturalized Some Aliens

GGD-98-62: Published: Mar 23, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) review of its case files of aliens who were naturalized between August 31, 1995 and September 30, 1996, and who the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had identified as having criminal history records, focusing on the: (1) results of the INS and Executive Office for Immigration Review's (EOIR) case reviews; and (2) approach used by KPMG Peat Marwick LLP to monitor INS' efforts to identify improperly naturalized aliens.

GAO noted that: (1) after receiving criminal history records from the FBI, INS reviewed to case files of 16,858 aliens with records that included a felony arrest or conviction of a serious crime who were naturalized between August 31, 1995, and September 30, 1996; (2) INS reviewed these criminal history records and its case files in an attempt to judge if these aliens should have been naturalized; (3) in its review of these 16,858 case files, INS designated each case as either proper, requires further action, or presumptively ineligible; (4) INS designated 10,535 cases as proper, 5,954 cases as requires further action, and 369 cases as presumptively ineligible; (5) to provide quality assurance that INS' decisions during the review were unbiased, EOIR reviewed a statistically valid sample of 557 alien cases from the universe of 16,858 aliens; (6) EOIR and INS reached the same decisions in 439 (or 79 percent) of the 557 cases; (7) although there was a 21-percent disagreement rate between the INS and EOIR reviewers, GAO could not conclude that a statistically significant difference existed between the INS and EOIR decisions; (8) INS is reviewing for potential revocation the 6,323 cases that its adjudicators judged as requiring further action or presumptively ineligible; (9) although INS initially did not plan to review the 72 cases that EOIR's review indicated may also have involved improper naturalization decisions, an attorney involved in reviewing the 6,323 cases said that these 72 cases are being reviewed with the other cases; (10) in carrying out its monitoring responsibilities, KPMG used accepted social science standards; (11) the KPMG report: (a) established procedures to ensure the appropriate collection and review of FBI criminal history records and the review of related alien case files; (b) promoted consistency in the judgments of INS adjudicators by providing training and having the adjudicators use a standardized worksheet, and (c) identified recurring adjudicator errors so that corrective action could be taken; and (12) KPMG's report also: (a) disclosed limitations in the study procedures followed; and (b) discussed conditions that may have affected the accuracy and completeness of INS' review.

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