Thursday, January 3, 2013
AZMEX SPECIAL 3-1-13
AZMEX SPECIAL 3 JAN 2012
Note: Mucho reading to do in this one, following from HST. Yet again boys and girls; the driver's license the primary form of ID for purchase of firearms.
The Kimery Report
Anthony L. Kimery, Homeland Security Today's Online Editor and Online Media Division manager, draws on 30 years of experience and extensive contacts as he investigates and analyzes homeland security, counterterrorism and border security. "The Kimery Report" was awarded a 2008 National ASBPE Award for Original Web News Section. His report, "Savage Struggle on the Border," was the lead report in the series of the same title that won the 2010 National ASBPE Gold Award for best magazine series. Comments on any of Tony's "Kimery Reports" are welcome.. Read more on Tony...
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USCIS Has No Idea How Many Illegal Aliens Ordered Deported Are In US; Given Access To Secure Facilities, Driver's Licenses
December 28, 2012
By: Anthony Kimery
A breakdown in the US Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program (SAVE) that's supposed to be updated to determine the accuracy of information used to validate a person's immigration status when that person has been ordered deported, has resulted in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) not knowing whether more than 800,000 individuals ordered deported have been removed or are still residing in the United States. And some who were ordered deported, a recent audit determined, remained in the US and are convicted felons or were employed in sensitive jobs, like airport workers.
That's the finding of a DHS Inspector General's (IG) audit on the SAVE program issued earlier this month by Assistant Inspector General for Information Technology Audit, Frank Deffer.
Disturbingly, the IG's audit found that "Benefits for which individuals were verified ranged from airport badges and Transportation Worker Identification Cards [TWIC], which provide individuals with access to secure areas," and "driver's licenses and education assistance."
Furthermore, "Some individuals included in [the IG's] sample had committed felonies ranging from citizenship fraud to aggravated assault."
The IG's random statistical sample of nearly 177,000 SAVE inquiries resulted in "a projected error rate of 12 percent," the audit report stated. "That is, we are 95 percent confident that one out of eight deportable aliens whom SAVE confirmed as having valid immigration status between October 1, 2008, and April 1, 2012, was actually out of status," the audit disclosed.
DHS is supposed to maintain an up-to-date list of deportable aliens so that other government agencies are able to ascertain their status and know that they should be denied benefits -- or employment in sensitive jobs.
In the DHS IG's audit report, Improvements Needed for SAVE To Accurately Determine Immigration Status of Individuals Ordered Deported, the IG said "We audited the USCIS Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program to determine the accuracy of information used to validate an applicant's immigration status when the applicant had been ordered deported … to assess whether the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program uses accurate and up-to-date information to validate immigration status of deportable, removable and excludable individuals, and (2) if Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements is not using accurate information, to determine the rate of error with respect to verification of these individuals' status."
The SAVE "program provided information that was sometimes outdated and erroneous about an individual's immigration status to benefit-granting agencies," the IG's audit found, adding, "This occurred because status codes in the Central Index System were generally not updated when the Immigration Court issued a decision to remove, deport or exclude an individual from the United States. Instead, the codes were updated when the individual physically left the United States, which can take years."
The IG's audit stated "This problem could potentially affect the more than 800,000 individuals who have been ordered deported, removed and excluded but who are still in the United States. Although the SAVE response in and of itself did not automatically result in approval of financial or other benefits by federal, state and local agencies, an erroneous response could result in agencies granting benefits to unentitled individuals."
A random statistical sample test of individuals who had been ordered deported but still remained in the United States identified a 12 percent error rate in immigration status verification," DHS' IG determined.
"In other words," the audit report said, "these individuals had no status, but were erroneously identified as having lawful immigration status. The remaining 88 percent passed our tests because the individuals had lawful immigration status at the time of status verification. This includes situations where the individual (1) was ordered deported after the verification or (2) obtained permanent or temporary status after being ordered deported but before the status verification."
While DHS's IG audit report stated that "The ultimate decision to provide or deny benefits [or jobs] rests with the federal, state and local agencies that submitted the verification inquiry … by erroneously verifying that a deportable individual has status to receive benefits, SAVE may have enabled the inquiring agency to grant financial and other benefits (e.g., access to secure areas, education grants and housing assistance) to people who are no longer eligible to receive those benefits."
According to USCIS, generally, individuals who are ordered deported or removed lose their lawful immigration status and any benefits they may have been eligible to otherwise receive.
The IG's audit explained that "Lawful permanent residents can lose status if they are convicted of a felony such as drug trafficking, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery or fraud; or if they spend too much time outside the United States and thus fail to meet residency requirements. Individuals with temporary status can lose status if they commit a crime or overstay their authorized period of stay."
Without specific authorization to remain in the United States either temporarily or permanently, the IG said "a deportable individual is out of status and is not entitled to many government benefits."
"However," the IG audit said, "USCIS Verification Division and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials told us that the Class of Admission code is generally not updated when an individual is ordered deported. USCIS officials explained that these individuals have the right to appeal or apply for relief, such as temporary protected status if they are afraid to return home. Consequently, it is not until the individual departs from the United States that the Central Index System admission code is updated via an electronic interface with data maintained by ICE."
"As it can take years for an administratively final order of removal to result in an actual departure, the admission code can be out of date for a number of years," the IG's audit found.
Continuing, the IG stated that "According to Verification Division officials, the accuracy of SAVE's response depends on the type of information that it can access in the source systems. SAVE data for the period under audit showed that 77 percent of all initial electronic verifications most likely relied on the admission code in Central Index System for verification."
"As a result," the audit report pointed out, "erroneous admission codes resulted in erroneous status verification. Although a SAVE status verifier can determine when a person has a final deportation order by accessing the EOIR and ICE systems, status inquiries get to the SAVE verifier only when manual intervention is necessary. If the admission code appears to be valid at initial verification, the case rarely gets to the status verifier for additional verification."
Consequently, the IG "identified examples of individuals who had administratively final orders of removal but whose status was verified by SAVE." And "In all cases, the SAVE responses were erroneous because the Class of Admission codes were not updated in the source systems. These individuals did not have relief from deportation or permanent or temporary status at the time SAVE verified their status."
The IG's audit found one individual who'd been a lawful permanent resident since 1989 who was ordered deported in September 2000 after convictions of multiple crimes, including illegal entry, assault, driving while intoxicated and carrying a concealed weapon, applied for a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) TWIC ID in 2009, and that SAVE "erroneously confirmed the individual's immigration status."
"Although TSA has other tools in place to identify criminal convictions and therefore does not rely exclusively on SAVE when vetting individuals for TWIC, an accurate SAVE result can improve TSA's vetting process," the IG's report said. ICE removed this individual in May 2012.
Another lawful permanent resident since 1964 was ordered deported in May 1996 following conviction of aggravated felonies for drugs and weapon possession, but in March 2010, SAVE verified the individual's immigration status for a driver's license or state identification card. In November 2010, TSA queried SAVE while vetting crewmembers (a process whereby TSA assesses security threats to aviation related to crewmembers on flights to, from and over the United States), and "in both instances, SAVE responded erroneously that the individual was a lawful permanent resident."
The DHS Inspector General made four recommendations to the USCIS Deputy Director Lori Scialabba to improve the accuracy of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program.
Scialabba was appointed deputy director in May 2011. Since 2006, she served as the Associate Director, Refugee, Asylum and International Operations. She also served as Senior Advisor on Iraqi Refugees to former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff from Sept. 2007 to Jan. 2009.
USCIS concurred with all four of the IG's recommendations. Based on information provided by Scialabba to the draft IG audit report, the DHS IG considered all four recommendations resolved, but not necessarily fully implemented. Scialabba's office must notify the IG in early Jan. 2013 that the actions recommended by the IG that USCIS agreed to "fully implement" are being carried out, including providing "evidence of completion of agreed-upon corrective actions."
However, according to the IG's report, all of the corrective actions identified in the audit that USCIS agreed to implement may not be completed until later in 2013.
Final Rule To Support Family Unity During USCIS Waiver Process Announced By DHS
By: Homeland Security Today Staff
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano Wednesday announced publication of a final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time US citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents) who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents under certain circumstances.
The final rule establishes a process that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before they depart the United States to attend immigrant visa interviews in their countries of origin. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013, and more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at www.uscis.gov.
"This final rule facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces the amount of time that US citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa," said Napolitano.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more than 4,000 comments in response to the April 2, 2012 proposed rule and considered all of them in preparing the final rule, DHS said.
"The law is designed to avoid extreme hardship to U.S. citizens, which is precisely what this rule achieves," said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. "The change will have a significant impact on American families by greatly reducing the time family members are separated from those they rely upon."
Under current law, immediate relatives of US citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents must leave the US and obtain an immigrant visa abroad. Individuals who have accrued more than six months of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver to overcome the unlawful presence inadmissibility bar before they can return to the United States after departing to obtain an immigrant visa.
Under the existing waiver process, which remains available to those who do not qualify for the new process, immediate relatives cannot file a waiver application until after they have appeared for an immigrant visa interview abroad and the Department of State has determined that they are inadmissible.
In order to obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a US citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her US citizen spouse or parent. USCIS will publish a new form, Form I-601A, Application for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, for individuals to use when applying for a provisional unlawful presence waiver under the new process.
Under the new provisional waiver process, immediate relatives must still depart the United States for the consular immigrant visa process; however, they can apply for a provisional waiver before they depart for their immigrant visa interview abroad. Individuals who file the Form I-601A must notify the Department of State's National Visa Center that they are or will be seeking a provisional waiver from USCIS. The new process will reduce the amount of time US citizen are separated from their qualifying immediate relatives. Details on the process changes are available at www.regulations.gov.
For more information, visit www.uscis.gov.