Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing outrage over rampant fraud in the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) program.  A recent investigative report, conducted by News 4 in New York, uncovered an orchestrated scam where people – up to twenty years of age – are fraudulently claiming that their parents abandoned, abused, or neglected them in order to be placed on a fast-track to a green card.  In the letter, Chairman Goodlatte demands the Department of Homeland Security provide answers about the steps they will take to rid the Special Immigrant Juvenile program of this kind of fraud and abuse.

Below is the text of the letter. The signed letter can be found here.

Dear Secretary Johnson,

I write regarding the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) program.  As you know, this program was created in order to offer protection to foreign national children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parent or parents.

The investigative reporting team at the News 4 New York, NBC affiliate recently conducted an investigation into abuse of the SIJ program.  The abuse detailed by the reporting team revealed an apparent conspiracy to commit fraud in order to obtain SIJs.  What they found is disturbing to say the least.  The March 4, 2015, investigative story can be found at the following link: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/family-court-queens-immigration-cases-human-smuggling-green-card-295050931.html.

In light of your stated commitment to preventing fraud and abuse in U.S. immigration benefit programs, I request that you watch the entire video and answer the following questions: 

  1. What immediate steps will you take to ensure that fraudulent SIJ petitions are not approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicators?
  2. What long term changes will you make to the adjudications process and policies to ensure that fraudulent SIJ petitions are not approved by USCIS adjudicators?
  3. How exactly will you coordinate with state courts to ensure that abuse, abandonment or neglect is not found by these courts when there is evidence of fraudulent claims?   
  4. What, if any, statutory changes do you suggest to give you additional tools to ensure that fraudulent SIJ petitions are not approved by USCIS adjudicators?
  5. In addition, I request that you immediately direct the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate at USCIS to conduct a Benefit Fraud Assessment of the current SIJ program and to determine what steps can be taken to prevent fraud in the program.

Please provide, by April 2, 2015, your substantive response addressing all of the questions and concerns raised above.  Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.