Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 7, 2006

USCIS adjudicators can’t access security databases

Filed under: Border Security — by Christian Beckner on March 7, 2006

The San Diego Union Tribune reported today that immigration officers in USCIS are unable to run security checks on potential immigrants because they themselves do not have the appropriate clearances:

Many immigration officers handling requests for green cards, citizenship and other immigration benefits do not have access to key law enforcement and national security databases, said a top federal security official who quit over the issue.

The officers’ access to the databases, which would allow them to check whether an applicant had a criminal record or was on the terrorism watch list, was cut off because the government has failed to complete required background checks on the immigration adjudicators….

Maxwell has warned about problems that keep vital information about applicants walled off from CIS employees who decide whether to grant immigration benefits.

That information is held in a database controlled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a separate part of the Department of Homeland Security, which has strict policies intended to keep the information from falling into the wrong hands.

Adjudicators for Citizenship and Immigration Services are given access to the database only after they have received a security clearance. But Maxwell has told Congress that the agency has been unwilling to pay for background investigations that Customs and Border Protection requires, his lawyer said.

The solution to this issue seems obvious: get these people cleared and in a position to make security determinations on immigrants. This should be an immediate and expedited priority for DHS.

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2 Comments »

364

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 8, 2006 @ 4:50 am

Was it lack of a clearance or lack of a “need to know?” This kind of thing was specifically described by the 9/11 Commission under the heading “Need to Share”!

382

Comment by M. M.

March 9, 2006 @ 10:06 pm

there is a clear need to know, with a prevailing lack of clearance, facilitating the failure of adjudicators to see derogatory information

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