Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and be quick about it. Vice President Gore's plan to rush the naturalization of 1.2 million new citizens in fiscal year 1996, according to a Justice Department probe, was a disaster.
Tens of thousands of people became citizens without adequate background checks. One Gore aide told investigators he felt pressure to clear the backlog in time for the new citizens to vote in November, though the inspector general's report included no evidence of political motivation.
About 1.2 million people received citizenship from October 1995 to September 1996 under the program that OK'd nearly 500,000 citizenship cases at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. At the time, the waiting period for citizenship was as much as three years. Although investigators believe tens of thousands of applications were approved without complete background checks, they could not determine how many unqualified individuals might have gained citizenship.