Noncitizen database of legal status can be years out of date, auditors say


A database utilized by governments at all levels to determine the legal status of noncitizen applicants for benefits or licenses isn't updated to include deportation orders until the person so-ordered has actually left the country, finds the Homeland Security Department office of inspector general.

As a result, random statistical testing shows the database has an error rate of 12 percent, auditors say in a Dec. 7 report (.pdf). In other words, more than one of every 10 applicants granted some government program ranging from food stamps to a Transportation Worker Identification Credential were shown as having a valid immigration status when in fact they didn't. The database in question is the Central Index System, which the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services runs as part of its Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program.

As of April 1, more than 800,000 individuals ordered for deportation were still residing in the United States, the report says.

USCIS official told auditors that the Central Index System isn't updated on issuance of a deportation order because individuals the subject of one have the right to appeal or apply for relief, such as temporary protected status if they are afraid to return home. It can take years from the issuance of a deportation order for it to be actually executed.

An immigration status verifier in the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program can manually check whether a person has a final deportation order, auditors note, but if the Central Index Systems shows a person has legal status, an application rarely gets to the point of additional verification, auditors also say.

For more:
download the report, OIG-13-11 (.pdf)

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