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INS and KPMG Complete Review of August, 1995 - September, 1996 Naturalizations

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Department of Justice and the Immigration and Naturalization Service today released the results of the review conducted to determine how many of the 1,049,867 individuals naturalized from August, 1995 through September, 1996 were wrongly granted citizenship, and to pinpoint systemic procedural problems that existed within the naturalization program. The naturalization review was comprised of three separate studies and was conducted by INS and supervised and validated by KPMG Peat Marwick, an independent auditing and consulting firm. A separate audit completed in December validated that a series of new quality assurance procedures had corrected these long-standing process problems. In the "Criminal History Case Review," which looked at all cases where an applicant had a criminal history record with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), INS and KPMG found that 369 people were naturalized despite having been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), and 5,954 cases that failed to support naturalization (5,634 for failing to reveal that they had been arrested for a felony or CIMT). All 6,323 cases are currently under review by the INS Office of General Counsel (OGC) for possible revocation. "INS is seeking to revoke the citizenship of the 369 individuals with actual convictions for felonies or crimes involving moral turpitude," said Doris Meissner, INS Commissioner. "We are also reviewing the cases of those individuals who failed to reveal that they had been arrested for serious crimes. Although an arrest, in and of itself, does not disqualify someone from naturalization, if we determine that a person provided false testimony about having been arrested, they would not meet the Good Moral Character standard for citizenship." "These reviews have helped us answer two key questions," said Stephen R. Colgate, Assistant Attorney General for Administration. "We now know how many people with disqualifying criminal convictions were actually naturalized during this period. We also know what other systemic problems existed within the naturalization program, and we have already taken steps to fix these weaknesses." INS and KPMG also conducted a "Deportation and Exclusion Case File Review" to determine how many individuals naturalized during the period either had a final order of exclusion or were in deportation proceedings. The study concluded that 38 of the 1,049,867 did have pending matters with the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and INS is now reviewing those cases for possible revocation. The third study, the "Random Sample Review," evaluated to what degree INS correctly processed and documented its decisions to naturalize individuals, and projected the potential impact that improper procedures might have had on the entire naturalization caseload. INS and KPMG looked at a stratified, random sample of 5,438 cases and reviewed each to determine if the case had been properly processed. For purposes of this review, a processing error was defined as an absence of physical documentation that any of 25 required processes in five areas had been completed prior to naturalization. The five process areas were: Eligibility, English or Civics, Residency, Administrative Protocol (INS internal procedures), and Good Moral Character (GMC). In 90.8% of the cases reviewed, INS and KPMG found that INS had made at least one processing error, with an average of two errors per case. The errors ranged from failing to make a notation in the file, to failing to document that a fingerprint card had been sent to the FBI. KPMG attributed this high error rate both to a lack of uniform processing standards and weak enforcement of the standards that did exist. Since the study was begun, INS has implemented strict quality assurance procedures, referred to as Naturalization Quality Procedures (NQP), to codify standards and increase accountabilty. In a December 16, 1997 audit of the implementation of NQP, KPMG reported that after June 30, INS had clearly "made significant improvements in the internal controls of the naturalization process and greatly

reduced the risk of incorrectly naturalizing an applicant." The Random Sample study also looked at errors in outcome, where a presence of physical documentation in the file showed that the candidate had a prima facie condition that should have disqualified them from naturalization -- either because they failed to meet the English and civics requirements, did not meet the residency requirement, failed to establish good moral character, or were ineligible to file. Of the 5,484 cases considered (this number includes 46 cases from the criminal history review), 205 cases were found to contain evidence that a disqualifying condition existed. Using statistical projections, this suggests that 3.7% or approximately 38,850 individuals were naturalized even though they failed to meet either the residency, English and civics, good moral character, or eligibility requirement. The majority of cases found to have been improperly decided were due to the applicant having filed their naturalization application more than 90 days prior to their fulfilling the statutory period of Legal Permanent Residence. In 96% of those cases, however, the applicant was eligible for naturalization by the time they took the oath of citizenship. The second largest group of improper decisions involved cases where the evidence showed a failure to establish Good Moral Character. The primary reason for this failure was evidence that the applicant had not disclosed a criminal history (including felony or misdemeanor convictions or arrests that did not lead to a conviction). Projected onto the entire caseload of 1,049,867, the data suggest that approximately 11,550 cases, or 1.1%, may have been improperly decided despite the applicant having a disqualifying conviction for a felony or CIMT, or a conviction on a misdemeanor charge, or because they failed to reveal an arrest for any type of crime. The difference between the 6,319 cases currently under review for possible revocation and the 11,550 cases projected in the Sample Review reflects differences in the criteria used in the two studies. The Sample Review included a projection of all cases where an applicant might have failed to establish good moral character, including misdemeanor convictions and failure to reveal arrests for misdemeanors -- cases that do not meet the current threshold for administrative revocation. The 6,319 cases identified through the Criminal History Review only include cases with felony or CIMT convictions, or cases in which the applicant failed to reveal an arrest for a felony or CIMT. The Department of Justice and INS are moving forward with plans to thoroughly reengineer the naturalization program. INS and Coopers and Lybrand, an accounting and consulting firm, have just completed their blueprint for a new naturalization process designed to meet the highest level of integrity and security while delivering efficient service to the millions of immigrants who seek the highest honor this nation can bestow -- the honor of becoming an American citizen.