WASHINGTON – A man who fraudulently obtained asylum and
U.S. citizenship was hired by the Obama administration to adjudicate the very
immigration petitions and forms on which he repeatedly lied. The case has Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa),
ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, raising new questions about immigration
vetting protocols, the individual’s work at USCIS and USCIS’s response to the
serious allegations made in the case.
Nwagubwu Ifemembi was recently indicted for obtaining American citizenship
using a false name, but not before he worked for seven years as an immigration
services officer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He arrived in
the United States in 2000 and was caught with a fake British passport. For
reasons that are not clear, he was still granted asylum after giving a fake
name. He was granted citizenship in 2011 and hired by USCIS to adjudicate immigration
petitions in 2013.
addition to being an embarrassing abrogation of USCIS’s mission to safeguard
the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system, this case raises a
number of serious questions about USCIS’s vetting procedures, Mr. Ifemembi’s
work at USCIS, and how the agency is responding to these disturbing
allegations,” Grassley wrote in a letter
is asking the agency how it became aware of the fraud after so many years,
whether the agency is aware of any other criminality during Ifemembi’s tenure
as an adjudicator, and whether Ifemembi’s identity fraud would succeed in
getting past current vetting practices.
Further, Grassley is asking whether the agency is conducting an audit of
cases adjudicated by Ifemembi.
May 5, 2021
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
Honorable Tracy Renaud
Citizenship and Immigration Services
Acting Director Renaud:
I write to you today regarding the recent
arrest of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) immigration
services officer, Mr. Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi – who has used a number of
false names during his time in the United States – on a federal charge of
obtaining American citizenship under a false name.
case is particularly concerning given the fact that, in addition to being able
to remain in the United States under false pretenses for over 20 years, Mr.
Ifemembi was actually hired and employed by USCIS as an immigration services
officer for seven years
– the very agency that is tasked with administering the nation’s lawful
immigration system and “safeguarding its integrity and promise.”
to the Department of Justice, Mr. Ifemembi was able to obtain asylum in 2000,
even after being caught with a fraudulent British passport upon his arrival in
the United States.
At that time, he also gave authorities a false name and home country.
He went on to attend college and law school in the United States before
applying for U.S. citizenship in 2010 and requesting a change to his surname.
His name change and citizenship were both granted in 2011 during the Obama
he was then hired by the Obama Administration’s USCIS in 2013 and worked as an
adjudicator for seven years.
For seven years, USCIS employed an individual who had committed major
immigration fraud and made false statements on numerous government forms to
make adjudication decisions on those same forms and petitions for other aliens
seeking immigration benefits in the United States. In addition to being an
embarrassing abrogation of USCIS’s mission to safeguard the integrity of our
nation’s legal immigration system, this case raises a number of serious
questions about USCIS’s vetting procedures, Mr. Ifemembi’s work at USCIS, and
how the agency is responding to these disturbing allegations.
please answer the following questions no later than May 19, 2021:
triggered the investigation into Mr. Ifemembi and his background by the
Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General and the USCIS
Office of Investigations?
USCIS have any evidence that Mr. Ifemembi engaged in any other criminality or
fraud during his tenure as an immigration services officer?
USCIS have evidence indicating that any other current or former USCIS employees
were aware or likely aware of Mr. Ifemembi’s fraudulent identity? If so, for each such current or former employee,
please (1) provide a list of each and every directorate or program office in
which they currently work or previously worked during their tenure at USCIS and
(2) describe what action the agency has taken with respect to each such employee
or former employee.
undertaking a review of each and every benefit application adjudicated by Mr.
Ifemembi during his tenure at the agency and, where appropriate, taking
that Mr. Ifemembi was caught with a fraudulent passport before receiving asylum
under a false identity in 2000, please explain what steps were taken to verify
his identity prior to the decision to grant asylum. In light of the failure to catch
Mr. Ifemembi’s fraudulent identity in 2000, please explain what changes USCIS
has made to the asylum vetting process since that time and whether or not the
current vetting process would catch Mr. Ifemembi’s identity fraud if he applied
for asylum today.
you for your attention to this important matter. Should you have questions, please
contact Drew Robinson of my staff at 202-224-5225.
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Justice, Federal Immigration Official Originally
from Nigeria Charged with Illegally Obtaining U.S. Citizenship under Fake Identity
(April 7, 2021),
 Mission and Core Values
Citizenship and Immigration Services, available
Press Release, supra
Stephen Dinan, DHS hired asylum fraudster to work as
immigration officer, prosecutors say
(April 7, 2021), https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/apr/7/dhs-hired-asylum-fraudster-work-immigration-office/
Press Release, supra