Grassley: Rush to Confirm New Citizens Before Election Puts National Security at Risk

Posted: Sep 23, 2016 1:30 PM
Grassley: Rush to Confirm New Citizens Before Election Puts National Security at Risk

Yesterday news broke Department of Homeland Security officials are encouraging employees to work expensive overtime hours to push through as many U.S. citizenship applications as possible before the November election. 

An internal Obama administration email shows immigration officials may be literally working overtime to swear in as many new “citizen voters” as possible before the Nov. 8 presidential election, a powerful lawmaker charged Thursday.

The email, from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office chief and part of a chain of correspondence within the agency, urges the unnamed recipient to swear in as many citizens as possible “due to the election year.”

“The Field Office due to the election year needs to process as many of their N-400 cases as possible between now and FY 2016,” reads the email, which was disclosed to by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who chairs the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

“If you have cases in this category or other pending, you are encouraged to take advantage of the OT if you can,” the email continues. “This will be an opportunity to move your pending naturalization cases. If you have not volunteered for OT, please consider and let me know if you are interested.”

Now, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley is accusing the Department of playing politics and is warning the move puts national security at risk.

"Your department seems intent on approving as many naturalization cases as quickly as possible at a time when it should instead be putting on the brakes and reviewing past adjudications, especially in light of this week’s Office of Inspector General report that found USCIS granted U.S. citizenship to at least 858 individuals from “special interest” countries (i.e. countries that are of concern to the national security of the United States) or countries with high rates of immigration fraud, who had final deportation orders under another identity," Grassley said in a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. "Unfortunately, we have been down this road before.  In the year preceding the 1996 presidential election the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the predecessor agency to USCIS, established the notorious “Citizenship USA” (CUSA) initiative.  Previously, the INS had been granting citizenship to 300,000 to 400,000 aliens per year, but under CUSA that increased to 1.1 million cases. The apparent push to naturalize as many aliens as possible in time for them to vote in the election resulted in cut corners that endangered national security and public safety."

"We sincerely hope history is not repeating itself," he continued. "Please explain what you are doing or will do to reassure adjudicators that naturalization applications should not be rushed for inappropriate political reasons.  Please also explain what steps you are taking or will take to assure our Committees and the American people that background and fingerprint checks will not be weakened, ignored, or completely eliminated." 

The election is 45 days away and some states have already started early voting.