I predict a sea change in Immigration enforcement efforts in the coming year, focusing finite resources on denaturalization at the expense of adjudicating benefits applications for everyone else. This is a summary of that program and how I think it’s going to evolve in the next year.
Operation Janus, a program that started under President Obama focusing on reviewing fingerprint data of naturalized citizens, has resulted in four civil denaturalization cases being brought in federal court. But it looks like thousands more are coming, and significant funds are being diverted from the adjudications budget in 2019 to pay for it.
Operation Janus and Operation Second Look
In a September, 2016 report of the DHS Office of Inspector General, the government revealed that it had failed to review the fingerprint cards in almost 150,000 naturalization cases.
In 2009 the agency started to go back to review those unreviewed fingerprint cards in a program it called “Operation Targeting Groups of Inadmissible Subjects,” the program it now calls “Operation Janus.” When it reviewed them (which involves scanning them into the electronic fingerprint database and then comparing them to other prints in the database) it found 858 cases where people had old deportation orders, allegedly adopted a new identity, and then eventually became citizens under the new identity without informing the government of the old orders.
The report announced they would be focusing on people from “Special Interest” countries or countries that border “Special Interest” countries. So far that has meant majority Muslim countries, although for now they have only filed four Operation Janus denaturalization cases.
The leads generated by Operation Janus are then passed to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which says it is currently following up on these leads. It calls this second-level program “Operation Second Look.” These two programs are described in the ICE FY2019 budget as follows:
No, that’s not a typo. ICE says it wants to examine 700,000 remaining alien files (for individuals who are already US citizens) to see if those folks should be denaturalized. And, of course, doing so costs a lot of money. Where will they get it?
Stealing Funding For Denaturalization Efforts From the Adjudications Budget
They’re going to take the money from the adjudications budget, which is comprised of the fees immigrants pay for the adjudication of the applications they file.
In total, the FY2019 ICE budget siphons $207.6M from the Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA) budget to spend on “Operation Second Look” and “Operation Janus.” ICE will spend this on hiring 300 special agents and 212 support personnel in HSI Domestic Investigations to investigate and pursue denaturalization cases.
Also, the FY2019 ICE budget adds $11,320,000 for “Contracts” to “support investigatory work required to adjudicate immigration applications and bolster agents’ ability to more effectively investigate Operation Janus and Operation Second Look leads.”
Taking this money from the adjudications budget means the processing times for benefits applications are going to expand even more than they already have. Processing has already ground to a slow crawl because of hiring freezes imposed by the Trump administration.
Is this legal? It doesn’t appear so. Congress directed the agency at INA 286(m) to spend IEFA funds on “adjudications.” If you apply for a work card because you’re eligible for a work card, you would hope they will spend the adjudications fee they made you pay on the actual adjudication of your work card application. You would not expect them to take that fee and spend it on prosecuting someone else who is already a US citizen.
We haven’t yet found any authority in the statute at least for the agency to take these fees that applicants pay to have their applications adjudicated and use them to pursue denaturalization of previously-naturalized citizens.
Overview of the Operation Janus Cases So Far
So, that’s Operation Janus and Operation Second Look. Thus far there aren’t many of these cases.
I’ve reviewed the Janus cases filed so far and thought it might be helpful to collect them all in one place. I’ll do my best to update this list as new cases are filed. There are three criminal cases that have been brought in Florida and four civil denaturalization cases. For people who naturalized recently, the DOJ can charge the person criminally and can denaturalize them as part of the criminal prosecution. For folks who naturalized a long time ago (meaning it may be too late to charge them criminally) the government pursues their denaturalization case in a civil action.
|Enite Alindor a/k/a Odette Dureland (56, Winter Haven)||2018, Mar.||Middle District of Florida||Jury Conviction (sentencing set for June 7, 2018); Denaturalized||Press Release;|
|Munia Parvin, a/k/a Zarrin Hoque (46, Sarasota)||2017, Dec.||Middle District of Florida||Guilty Plea, Convicted, Sentenced (six months prison); Denaturalized||Press Release; |
|Natasha Pierre (46, Davenport), a/k/a Elsie Petitfrere||2017, Dec.||Middle District of Florida||Guilty Plea, Convicted, Sentenced (six months prison); Denaturalized||Press Release;|
|Name||Date||Venue||Good Cause Affiant||DOJ Trial Attorney||Last Action||Summary||Link|
|Humayun Kabir Rahman fka Md Humayun Kabir Talukder aka Ganu Miah aka Shafi Uddin
|2018, Feb||Southern District of Michigan||Caroline Lyly Nguyen||Aaron R. Petty; Peter Kaplan (AUSA)||Filed – US v. Humayun Kabir Rahman. Def. Counsel is||Complaint filed Feb, 2018 (False Testimony, procured by fraud, procured by concealment). Def. attorney entered.||Complaint; Press Release; PACER Link
|Baljinder Singh aka Davinder Singh||2018, Jan||District of
|Caroline Mazzara D’Angelo||Aaron R. Petty||Denaturalized – US v. Singh||DOJ filed Complaint (procured by fraud, procured by concealment). No Answer. DOJ then moved for judgment on the pleadings (rather than default). D didn’t file an Answer or respond to motion, which was granted.||Judgment, Judgment Press Release, USCIS Press Release, Complaint, Press Release, PACER Link
|Parvez Manzoor Khan aka Mohammad Akhtar and Jaweed Khan||2017, Sept.||Middle District of Florida||Caroline Lyly Nguyen||Aaron R. Petty||DOJ Moved for Judgment on the Pleadings – US v. Parvez Manzoor Khan||DOJ Filed Complaint (false testimony, procured by fraud, procured by concealment). D filed Answer. DOJ moved for judgment on pleadings. D opposed. Discovery deadline was 3/1/18. No discovery motions filed.
|Complaint, Press Release, PACER Link
|Rashid Mahmood aka Rashid Mehmood||2017, Sept.||District of Connecticut||Christopher J. White||Joseph F. Carilli, Jr.; Carlyn Ikari (AUSA)
|Filed – US v. Rashid Mahmood (D. Conn.)||Complaint filed Sept. 2017 (procured by fraud, false testimony, unlawful acts, procured by concealment). No request for summons. AUSA requested summons Nov. 2017. “Notice” filed Dec. 2017.||Complaint, Press Release, PACER Link