USCIS announced plans to create a new office in Los Angeles dedicated to investigating citizenship fraud, with the agency identifying naturalized citizens suspected of obtaining permanent residence and citizenship using false identification. With a team of several dozen attorneys and immigration officers, USCIS will refer cases for prosecution to the Department of Justice, which would then seek to denaturalize those citizens via court proceedings.
USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna explained in an interview that the agency has a process in place that will “start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place.” Investigations will focus on deliberate fraud, notably in cases where applicants lied or misrepresented their identities to obtain permanent residence or citizenship.
Though the new office will open next year, there will likely be a period of lag before cases are reviewed and referred for prosecution. While Cissna expects the agency’s efforts to potentially reveal several thousand cases involving fraud or misrepresentation, those who applied for citizenship in good faith are not expected to be targets of the new agency’s efforts. Thus it is unlikely that the vast majority of naturalized citizens will be affected.
With this new push to investigate citizenship cases, the Trump administration has reinforced its efforts to limit fraud and misrepresentation in the immigration process. Given the current climate, we can expect the agency to fully commit to these plans.