Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Florida district was engaged in a “systematic” program of speeding aliens through the citizenship process in an effort to enhance Democratic voter turnout on election day, according to a legal watchdog organization.
Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based public-interest legal group that has launched a number of lawsuits against the Clinton administration, says an INS source told the group’s lawyers the program in question
“is nearly identical to the
now infamous 1996 ‘Citizenship USA’ program.”
Then, Judicial Watch said, thousands of aliens — some with criminal backgrounds — were “improperly and illegally rushed through the naturalization process in order to obtain Democratic votes for the presidential election.”
The Judicial Watch charges about the 1996 election have been confirmed by David Schippers, the former chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee who prosecuted President Clinton’s impeachment.
In his book,
“Sellout,” Schippers said, “My staff and I agreed that we needed to focus on the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which appeared to be running out of control.”
Specifically, Schippers revealed when he and his investigative team “came to the subject” of the INS, an “investigation by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and congressional committees had already indicated that the White House used the INS to further its political agenda.
“A blatant politicization of the agency took place during the 1996
presidential campaign when the White House pressured the INS into expediting its ‘Citizenship USA’ (CUSA) program to grant citizenship to thousands of aliens that the White House counted as likely Democratic voters,” said Schippers — a Democrat who twice voted for Clinton.
“To ensure maximum impact, the INS concentrated on aliens in key states — California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Texas — that hold a combined 181 electoral votes, just 89 short of the total needed to win the election,” Schippers wrote of the ’96 election effort.
Ironically, the former impeachment prosecutor found a major connection between the operation and Al Gore.
“The program was placed under the direction of Vice President Al Gore. We received from the GAO a few e-mails indicating Vice President Gore’s role in the plan,” Schippers said. “He was responsible for keeping the pressure on, to make sure the aliens were pushed through by September 1, the last day to register for the presidential election.”
Four years later, in the lead-up to the 2000 election, the Florida INS ran an effort called the “Backlog Reduction Program,” said Judicial Watch, which it describes as “a neutral, bureaucratic-sounding title designed to lower the program’s visibility with the media and the general public.”
As part of the program, INS examiners and clerks who “met or exceeded headquarters’ goals and quotas [for naturalizing aliens] … were rewarded with various types of bonuses, including an extra 40 hours of paid time off,” the source told Judicial Watch.
The legal watchdog group said its source also reported that some of the naturalization processes were allegedly performed illegally.
“As part of this program,” the group said, “non-English speakers have had naturalization interviews illegally conducted in the alien’s native language, as well as a case where an alien — without any residence, family or business ties in the U.S. — was naturalized only three days after returning to the U.S. from an 11-and-a-half month absence from the country.”
“This sounds like another illegal ‘import-a-voter’ program by the Clinton-Gore administration,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “Leave it to Clinton and Gore to desecrate the citizenship process.”
“Judicial Watch will pursue these charges no matter who comes to occupy the White House,” added chairman Larry Klayman.
In 1996, Schippers’ book reveals, the Clinton administration was clearly “circumventing normal procedures for naturalizing aliens — procedures that check backgrounds and weed out criminals — and consequently they were handing out citizenship papers to questionable characters.”
The impeachment prosecutor, who for years prosecuted Mafia cases in Chicago, said the idea for using the INS to rapidly naturalize new potential Democratic voters was first introduced to the White House by then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros in a memo.
“The memo, from the California Active Citizenship Campaign (ACC), complained of a backlog of alien applications for naturalization in Los Angeles. It contained the magic words: ‘INS inaction [on the backlog] will deny 300,000 Latinos the right to vote in the 1996 presidential elections [sic] in California,'” Schippers said, quoting the Cisneros memorandum.
Schippers said that INS Commissioner Doris Meissner — who announced last month she would be stepping down — warned President Clinton against taking such action via the INS, adding that it could be viewed as politically motivated.
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