US immigration agencies unable to detect fraud

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued on Wednesday claims that US immigration agencies have neither the know-how nor the resources to detect immigration fraud being committed as asylum seekers flock to the country.

“USCIS (US Customs and Immigration Services) and the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) have limited capabilities to detect asylum fraud,” the report states. The two government agencies have mechanisms in place to investigate alleged fraudulent individual applications; however, the GAO noted that neither has assessed the risks of fraud in the asylum process in the manner suggested by the leading practices. “Without regular assessments of fraud risks, USCIS and EOIR lack reasonable assurance that they have implemented controls to mitigate those risks,” the report continues.

The ability of the US Customs and Immigration Services to successfully identity patterns of possible fraudulent activities across the applications of asylum seekers is also being seriously hindered by its continuing reliance on an application system that is still almost entirely paper based and therefore not capable of capturing key information to detect fraud. This would be possible with an electronic system, the Government Accountability Office claims.

The applications of 374 would-be immigrants who were claiming asylum status between the fiscal years 2010 and 2014 were terminated due to fraud. In August this year USCIS adopted 180 days as its target for reviewing evidence and making a decision about whether to commence termination proceeding, the report says.