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FILE - In this June 5, 2015 file photo, a view of the Homeland Security Department headquarters in Washington. The U.S. government has mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants who had pending deportation orders from countries of concern to national security or with high rates of immigration fraud, according to an internal Homeland Security audit released Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general found that the immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren’t caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

US government mistakenly granted citizenship to more than 800 immigrants


The U.S. government mistakenly granted citizenship to 858 immigrants it was supposed to deport, according to a Homeland Security audit released Monday. 

The department's inspector general, John Roth, found that the immigrants who were granted citizenship came from countries of concern or with high rates of immigration fraud. 

In addition, Roth found that the immigrants used alternate names or birth dates when applying for citizenship. Those discrepancies weren't caught because their fingerprints weren't in government databases.

This situation created opportunities for individuals to gain the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship through fraud.
Roth told Voice of America

In an emailed statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that some of the individuals may have eventually qualified for citizenship and the lack of fingerprint records doesn't mean they necessarily committed fraud. 

Roth's report added that the fingerprints of as many as 315,00 immigrants, who are listed as criminals or who have received final deportation orders, were missing from the database. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also hasn't added some of the other immigrants' fingerprints to the database. 

ICE, which is responsible for finding and deporting undocumented immigrants, didn't start consistently adding fingerprints to the government database until 2010. 

According to ABC, the audit recommended that any outstanding fingerprints be added to the government's database.

Roth also recommended that immigration officials create a system to evaluate each of the cases where immigrants were mistakenly granted citizenship. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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