Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 15, 2006

GAO looks at immigration benefits fraud

Filed under: Border Security,Investigation & Enforcement — by Christian Beckner on March 15, 2006

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report to Congress this month entitled “Immigration Benefits: Additional Controls and a Sanctions Strategy Could Enhance DHS’s Ability to Control Benefit Fraud.” The report looks at US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ fraud detection efforts, and notes that while USCIS is able to frequently detect cases of fraud, it has no system of sanctions and penalties in place to punish fraudulent activity, beyond the denial of visas or legal status.

It’s important for USCIS to improve these activites and align them closely with fraud detection for travel visa issuance in the State Department. The thriving black market for fraudulent IDs and documents is largely a function of immigration-related demand, but terrorists directly benefit from the existence of this market. To the extent that countries can crack down on this market, it drives up the costs and increases the risks for terrorists trying to cross borders.

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