The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) inspector general, John Roth, stated that the compounding immigration backlog in the country may present a security risk, after several Green Cards and other documents have been sent to the wrong people.
According to Roth, this margin of error was created by moving the application process online, to the Electronic Immigration system (ELIS), implemented in 2005 mainly to streamline the process of applying for citizenship, asylum, and other benefits, and ensure potential terrorists or other individuals bent on threatening U.S. security could not enter the country or receive citizenship benefits.
However, numerous documents have nonetheless been printed with incorrect names or mailed to the wrong people, which Roth claims “created potential security concerns about documents that cannot be accounted for or that may have fallen into the wrong hands.” Roth also states that potentially hundreds of Green Cards have been sent to unauthorized individuals who might sell or use them fraudulently for profit.
Roth recently audited the ELIS to gauge, after 11 years and considerable expense, the benefits that ELIS has provided as far as processing is concerned. Roth found out, unfortunately, that the benefits have been few.
Despite going through years of development, applicants can only apply online for two of about 90 types of benefits and services which account for less than ten percent of the agency’s entire workload.
Leon Rodriguez, director of USCIS, disputed Roth’s audit, mainly challenging the assertion that USCIS’s attempts at implementing and developing the new technology has been half-hearted. Also, Rodriguez questions whether “national security was impacted based on address changes by applicants.”
Rodriguez also accused Roth of not taking into account that USCIS is currently implementing an identity verification process and other safeguards to minimize the risk of sending documents to the wrong address.
The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, called the findings “concerning”, and stated that: “With ISIS and other terrorist groups active around the world and committed to attacks on our country, our national security depends on our systems for screening visa and immigration applications working effectively.”