A proposal that began in a Center for Homeland Defense and Security Master’s Program class has been transformed into a successful naturalization fraud initiative dubbed Operation False Haven that has resulted in a top award.
In July, CHDS alum Ron Dorman (MA 1703/1704) was given the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Executive Associate Director’s Award for the multi-phase initiative the lead Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officer crafted to identify child molesters and other egregious felons who fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship.
Dorman developed a strategy to cross-reference criminal records with naturalization records through the National Criminal Analysis and Targeting Center and use the matches to identify felons who were convicted after naturalization for crimes they knowingly committed and concealed prior to receiving citizenship.
So far, Operation False Haven has led to 44 criminal cases, 19 civil cases, 12 judicial revocations of citizenship, 7 judicial removal orders, and more than 120 felony charges relating to naturalization and passport fraud, and violations of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
Dorman said the initiative started as a mission model canvas project in CHDS instructor Rodrigo Nieto Gomez’s class. However, he said he quickly realized he was “really overreaching” with the proposal and would never be able to complete it during the class and so switched to a biometrics initiative instead.
Later, he said, when asked if “anyone had anything on naturalization fraud,” he ended up “knocking the dust bunnies off” the proposal and creating an initiative that started operating on a small scale in the fall of 2019.
“[The initiative] wouldn’t exist without CHDS,” Dorman said.
Naturalization fraud and detecting it has “historically been a huge issue” among the 800,000 to 900,000 annual naturalization cases, he said, noting that the initiative deals with “massive” criminal and immigration databases. Dorman figured out how to sift through the databases algorithmically, and identify fraudsters.
Dorman added that “de-naturalization is not something to be taken lightly,” and ICE wanted to target the “worst of the worst,” including convicted child molesters, as well as tax fraud and elder abuse convicts.
After proving the initiative is “scalable,” Dorman said Operation False Haven has expanded from the Eastern District of North Carolina where it started to other districts and states, including Michigan, Texas, and Florida, with Louisiana and Georgia also considering adding the initiative.
He said the ICE award is a “source of pride,” and that he is “genuinely proud of the recognition.”
The award is the highest given to an individual for significant contributions to the overall success of the ERO mission.
Dorman said not only was CHDS the “best thing that ever happened to me” but that he continues to “lean on my classmates as sounding boards. CHDS has always been a monster resource for me,” he said. “It’s difficult to put into words how important it has been to me and my career. I went in blind and completely fell in love with it. It means the world to me.”