WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Two leading Republican Senators have sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson questioning the administration's apparent efforts to expedite the processing of citizenship applications before the upcoming presidential election.
The letter sent by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., cites an internal DHS email obtained by their committees.
The email directs staff to process as many citizenship applications as possible 'due to the election year' and indicates that staff are being encouraged to work overtime.
Grassley and Johnson raised concerns that the effort to rush the adjudication of naturalization applications could be politically motivated.
'Your department seems intent on approving as many naturalization cases as quickly as possible at a time when it should instead be putting on the brakes and reviewing past adjudications,' Grassley and Johnson wrote.
The Senators highlighted a recent report that found citizenship was mistakenly granted to 858 people from countries of concern despite facing orders of deportation under other identities.
Grassley and Johnson also pointed to a similar push to boost the number of new citizen voters in 1996 that they claim endangered national security and public safety in order to provide Democrats with a strategic advantage.
'We sincerely hope history is not repeating itself,' they wrote to the DHS Secretary. 'Therefore, please explain what you are doing or will do to reassure adjudicators that naturalization applications should not be rushed for inappropriate political reasons.'
A statement from Homeland Security suggested that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is only trying to handle a bigger than expected jump in citizenship applications this year.
'USCIS anticipated that there would be a spike in applications this year, as we usually see in an election year, but the increase in N-400 applications has exceeded expectations,' the DHS said.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would potentially benefit from an increase in new citizen voters due to rhetoric from Republican rival Donald Trump that is often seen as anti-immigrant.
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