A newly created office within the Department of Homeland Security has been tasked with identifying naturalized Americans who falsified their formal citizenship applications and stripping those individuals of their green card status, the Washington Examiner reported Wednesday.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars said the agency has hired dozens of lawyers and immigration officers to staff a new USCIS office in Los Angeles with direction to potentially prosecute individuals if they are found to have committed fraud.
“The new USCIS office in southern California will serve as a centralized location to review and initiate the civil denaturalization process against individuals who had been ordered removed and intentionally used multiple identities in order to defraud the government and the American people to obtain citizenship,” Bars told the Examiner.
The paper reported that since January 2017, more than 2,500 cases of granted naturalized citizenship have been placed under additional review.
USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna told the Associated Press the office is looking at potentially a few thousand cases.
Cissna said the U.S. government is not seeking to target individuals who might be listed under multiple names, adding that many Latin American immigrants have multiple family surnames. The agency is instead targeting people who intentionally altered their identities to falsify their applications to receive immigration benefits.
“The people who are going to be targeted by this – they know full well who they are because they were ordered removed under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on,” Cissna told the Associated Press. “It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them.”