US govt halts new citizenship approvals
WASHINGTON: The Obama Administration has halted new citizenship approvals after realizing that its background check system was broken, a newspaper reported.
The report, quoting a key congressman said, the government has suspended naturalization ceremonies and banned officers from approving any new applications for citizenship earlier this week after realizing its background check system was broken and ineligible people may have been slipping through.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, whose office was tipped off to the monumental error, said he was stunned by the problem — and also by the fact that the administration never bothered to inform him of it.
In the internal email Goodlatte obtained, the associate director at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ordered all officers “not to approve or oath any naturalization cases in ELIS,” referring to the Electronic Immigration System that’s the case management system for processing applications.
“At this point we are not confident that proper FBI Name Checks have been run on certain ELIS cases. At this point we are uncertain of the scope of the problem,” Daniel M. Renaud, the associate director, said in the email.
FBI name checks are a critical part of the application process, giving immigration officers a look at potential criminal histories or other national security red flags that would make someone ineligible for citizenship.
Goodlatte demanded USCIS detail when it discovered the problem and how many cases were affected, and said the agency should take steps to strip citizenship from anyone who shouldn’t have been approved.
In his email to employees, Renaud said officers were allowed to continue conducting citizenship interviews but could not issue a final approval.