Substantially Justified? The U.S. Government’s Use of Name-Check Technologies in Naturalization Procedures

By: H. Jin Cho

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services relies upon the Federal Bureau of Investigation to administer the National Name Check Program, which conducts background checks on applicants for naturalization. Backlogs have led to long delays for aspiring citizens and significant legal problems for the government.

This iBrief examines the First Circuit’s ruling in Aronov v. Napolitano that an eighteen-month delay in adjudicating a naturalization application was substantially justified. While the government’s inefficiency can be explained partly by an understaffed bureaucracy, overwhelming evidence suggests that these problems are exacerbated by a technological infrastructure that is ill-equipped to handle the scope of the backlog. This iBrief argues that the government should be held liable for its failures; and that long-overdue technological improvements should be implemented to prevent these issues from recurring in the future.

Cite: 2010 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 007