More than 800 foreign nationals from “countries of special interest” have been mistakenly granted United States Citizenship due to an issue caused by missing fingerprints. These fingerprints of foreign nationals, initially stored in US government paper files, were not uploaded to government digital databases for unknown reasons, making them inaccessible to immigration officials.
The error that created the situation of more than 315,000 immigrants’ fingerprints going missing, was allegedly caused by a 1990’s to 2010 era process where the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to regularly add fingerprints to the government digital databases.
Of the 315,000 fingerprint sets missing, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have reviewed about 167,000, adding fingerprints to the digital files. Many of those who have received US Citizenship inappropriately, used false names or other biographical information to gain their Citizenship, or were on deportation lists. It is suggested that this situation may put strategic national interests at risk because this allows those who have obtained their Citizenship improperly, to possibly be granted security clearances to access security-sensitive employment.
To date, it is known that some of the people who have mistakenly gained their Citizenship with no fingerprints, were working as police officers, and in supposedly secure areas of aviation, marine or other transportation facilities but those identified have since had their credentials revoked due to lack of legitimate citizenship.
Government officials have expressed grave concern for the loss of fingerprints but have allegedly been aware of the issue since 2008 with little to no action being taken until recently.
Immigration officials are now evaluating each of the cases where foreign nationals were improperly granted citizenship and the Department of Homeland Security is working to implement security changes to prevent future occurrences such as the issue at hand.