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9/10/2010
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New DHS IT System Targets Immigration Fraud

The new system will combine several existing systems and layer search technology on top to help catch immigration fraud and immigrants who pose security threats.




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In a bid to improve detection of immigration fraud and use immigration data to track national security concerns, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) plans to combine several databases into a single, searchable user interface, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.

According to an announcement in the Federal Register, immigrations officials will use the new Citizenship and Immigration Data Repository (CIDR) to vet immigration applications for fraud and national security concerns, to detect possible misuse of the data by immigration officials, and to respond to requests for information from law enforcement and the intelligence community.

Today, CIS employees have to tap into more than seven different IT systems and databases to assess and dole out immigration benefits, along the way checking to ensure individuals aren’t fraudulently requesting benefits, haven't committed certain crimes, and don't pose threats to public safety or national security.

CIDR, which will go live on DHS' classified network on October 8 once time for public comments on the effort has ended, adds a new user interface to make it easier to sift through data on these disparate systems, and will also include mirror copies of the existing CIS databases.

The system will include all sorts of records on people who have filed applications for immigration benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act as well as their family members. The data will include a wide swath of personally identifiable information, so security will understandably be subject to "strict controls," according to the announcement, with access limited to a "need to know" basis.

While the data stored in the databases isn’t classified, CIS has to carry out searches "whose parameters are classified," and the results of the searches will be classified, thus requiring the system to reside on DHS' classified network.

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