The Trump administration is analyzing decades-old fingerprints in an unprecedented effort to rescind American citizenship from immigrants who may have lied or falsified information on their naturalization forms, says the Washington Post. Revoking citizenship has long been treated as a rare and drastic measure by immigration authorities, reserved for foreigners who commit egregious crimes or acts of fraud, or pose a threat to national security. But under a new policy first reported by the Associated Press, L. Francis Cissa, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has ordered an investigation of thousands of old fingerprint records and files to determine whether foreigners made false or fraudulent statements in their attempts to obtain legal residency in the United States.
Homeland Security investigators are digitizing fingerprints collected in the 1990s and comparing them with more recent prints provided by foreigners who apply for legal residency and U.S. citizenship. If decades-old fingerprints gathered during a deportation match those of someone who did not disclose that deportation on their naturalization application or used a different name, that individual could be targeted by a new Los Angeles-based investigative division. Violators will be referred to federal courts where they could be stripped of citizenship and potentially deported. According to the latest USCIS data, 2,536 naturalization cases have prompted in-depth reviews so far. Ninety-five of those cases have been referred to the Justice Department. Only a federal judge — not USCIS — has the authority to revoke citizenship.