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A Nation of Laws and a Nation of Immigrants

Posted by Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services

This is part of a series of blog posts exploring the progress we have made in implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations.

Respecting and celebrating our tradition as a nation of immigrants strengthens our communities and helps ensure that people of diverse backgrounds share in the rights and freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution.

Every day, the dedicated men and women of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ensure that deserving immigrants receive the benefits for which they are eligible under our nation’s laws. This same dedicated workforce protects the integrity of our nation’s immigration system and helps ensure the system is not abused by those who wish to do our nation harm.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, USCIS was created as part of a new national homeland security enterprise to confront and defend against the evolving threats we face and to make America more resilient when a crisis occurs. Its creation was premised upon the basic tenet that for our immigration system to work, we must be able to protect our national security.

Through USCIS’s enhanced efforts to protect national security, USCIS can more effectively screen for security threats while efficiently processing legitimate benefits for people rightfully coming to the United States. To that end, USCIS has taken and continues to take steps responsive to the 9/11 Commission Report’s recommendations. In our efforts, for example, to combat immigration fraud:

  • We redesigned the Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as the Green Card, to include a radio frequency identification tag that allows Customs and Border Protection to quickly access the electronic records of travelers seeking to enter the United States and includes new security features that reduce the risks of counterfeiting, tampering, and fraud.
  • We redesigned the Certificate of Naturalization, utilizing a tamper-proof printing process and embedding digitized photos and signatures.
  • We added a machine-readable zone to the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to make it easier for border control officers to more efficiently identify people who have already been approved for immigration benefits and who have been reviewed previously by USCIS officers.
  • We have enhanced our partnership with the Forensic Document Laboratory which is dedicated exclusively to detecting fraudulent documents. As a result, we can better identify fake documents used to seek immigration benefits.

We also have enhanced our sharing of information with key federal partners:

  • Dozens of our Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) officers are aligned with local FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTFFs) to coordinate resources and provide immigration expertise to federal government agencies in support of terrorism investigations.
  • Our FDNS officers furnish support to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the FBI’s National Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Terrorist Screening Center, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s National Security Unit.
  • We regularly exchange information with US-VISIT related to refugee claimants under existing data-sharing agreements with foreign-government partners.

Our efforts reflect our commitment to oversee lawful immigration to the United States by strengthening the security and integrity of our nation’s immigration system while providing effective customer-oriented immigration benefit and information services.

You can read more about the Department’s efforts to implement the 9/11 Commission report’s recommendations here.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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