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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

US government could take back your citizenship

Por DamianToo

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is reviewing the citizenship petition process of more than 2,500 people who became naturalized Americans, in search of possible frauds committed during the process. A spokeswoman for that federal agency told EFE news agency on Monday that about 100 of the 2,500 cases "have a reasonable suspicion" and were sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ will be responsible for evaluating whether to initiate legal proceedings against immigrants in these cases. Part of the process could include withdrawing US citizenship, said spokeswoman Claire Nicholson.

The review of the procedures is part of a multi-million dollar plan of the government of President Donald Trump. Federal officials have said that it is an effort to identify people who have committed fraud in the procedures of citizenship or permanent residence, or who have committed crimes before naturalizing and have not declared it.

This summer, the government announced the formation of a group of lawyers and researchers that operates under USCIS and is responsible for analyzing the processes at the national level. But since January 2017 USCIS staff is reviewing potential cases for citizenship revocation, officials told EFE.

The plan of the Department of Homeland Security (under which USCIS operates) plans to devote about $ 207.6 million to the initiative. With part of that money, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will hire new agents for the National Security Investigations division, according to ICE's budget plan for 2019.

One of the researchers' tasks is to identify applicants who were ordered to leave the country but stayed behind and naturalized under another identity. To determine possible cases of fraud, researchers focus on fingerprint records on deportation orders from the 1990s and prior years, which were not digitized. This information is now being compared with more recent files. The authorities plan to refer some 1,600 of these types of cases to the Department of Justice.

Immigration activists and naturalization attorneys have said they fear the plan is an effort to scare immigrants and that it ends up affecting people who committed petty crimes decades ago.

"I am concerned that people naturalized for many years have been revoked citizenship, and that doing what is necessary to defend themselves is very expensive and people simply give up," said Matthew Hoppock, Kansas immigration lawyer to the Miami Herald in July. City that has followed up on the changes in the citizenship revocation policy.

Hoppock was referring to cases such as that of Norma Borgoño, a 63-year-old Peruvian immigrant who has lived in Miami for 28 years.

Borgoño was sentenced in 2012 to one year of house arrest and four years of probation for his lesser involvement in a $ 24 million fraud a decade ago. As secretary of an export and import company called Texon Inc., she prepared documents for her boss, who pocketed money from loans fraudulently received from the US Export and Import Bank. Borgoño did not profit from the fraud and cooperated with the authorities in the investigation.