One of President-elect Barack Obama's top immigration advisers oversaw a Clinton-era program that awarded U.S. citizenship to thousands of convicted criminals and failed to conduct adequate FBI background checks on foreigners during a push to reduce a backlog of naturalization applications.This is not change we can believe in.
T. Alexander Aleinikoff, former executive associate commissioner for programs at the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service, staunchly defended the program, Citizenship USA (CUSA), before Congress a decade ago, although the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General concluded in 2000 that the program failed to address weaknesses that pushed the immigration system beyond its limits.
CUSA saw 1.2 million foreign nationals become U.S. citizens in 1996. Many of them later were identified as convicted criminals. The program was endorsed vigorously by President Clinton but attacked by critics as an election-year ploy to speed naturalizations for political gain, noting that the program targeted INS districts in heavily Democratic Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and San Francisco.
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