Watch CBSN Live

Immigration Fraud Riddles Suspended Family Reunification Program

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is not the only one committing a fascinating form of fraud. In a little-noticed move last week, the State Department suspended an immigration program, disqualifying certain would-be immigrants from entering the country. Why? They were committing fraud in massive percentages.

Under current law, there are three categories of immigrants who can come to the United States as refugees. Categories one and two are people who, because of apparently exigent circumstances, are referred by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other official and NGO groups. Category three allows in individuals from eligible nationalities who are granted access for purposes of family reunification with certain legal residents in the United States.

When immigrants bring in large numbers of family members, this is referred to as chain migration. The family reunification program has been available to people from a variety of continents and nationalities since the 1980s. In recent years, according to the State Department, more than 95 percent of the applications to the P-3 program have been Africans--primarily Somalis, Ethiopians, and Liberians.

But, after repeated reports that applicants were faking familial relationships to persons already in the United States, the State Department started testing the DNA of applicants to this program.

The tests were able to confirm familial relationships in only 20 percent of cases, so six weeks ago the department suspended the program until officials figure out a better way to run it.

I'm not sure why the State Department decided to focus mainly on African immigrants. The State Department Web page cited above says it was prompted by repeated reports of fraud, particularly on the part of would-be Kenyan immigrants. But the fact the department was able to prove biological relationships among only 20 percent of those tested, mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Liberia, is astounding. Perhaps the State Department should start testing so-called refugees from all continents, yes, Europe included. It is outrageous that American taxpayers should be forced to absorb the huge resettlement, education, and healthcare costs of persons who enter this country under fraudulent circumstances, no matter what their country of origin.

--Read more by Bonnie Erbe.

--Read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

--Read more about immigration.

--Read more about the State Department.

--Read more about Africa.

By Bonnie Erbe

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue