The agency charged with admitting immigrants to the United States is in disarray, an internal investigator told closed congressional briefings last week, with employees facing thousands of charges of misconduct and having to make decisions on letting in foreigners without knowing whether there are national security risks.
Two sources familiar with the briefing said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) employees face 2,500 misconduct charges, including bribery and exchanging immigration benefits for sex. There are also charges that some employees are being influenced by foreign governments.
“The thing that took most of the oxygen out of the room was the realization that there is the distinct possibility that people who have terrorist backgrounds have been able to obtain green cards because of a lack of ability to check their backgrounds,” said one of the sources.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, said the information about CIS could doom Mr. Bush’s proposal.
“The idea you could possibly add to all this a guest-worker plan of any kind that requires background checks on all these people is ludicrous,” he said. “This agency can’t do it.”
The sources said the briefings touched on two areas in which CIS employees don’t have access to needed information.
Up to 1,300 of the 4,000 immigration adjudicators who are supposed to have access to the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) database have been shut out of it. In some situations, the employees have failed to keep up their certification, while others haven’t had the appropriate background checks to maintain access.
The briefings also covered reports of 1,400 cases in which applicants for entry have shown up on TECS as part of a national security investigation. The special group of adjudicators deciding those cases can tell there is an investigation, but lack credentials to find out what the investigation is about, the sources said.