The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system is operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to allow federal, state and local government agencies to determine whether a non-citizen applicant is eligible for benefits. Foreign nationals who are in the country illegally, or have not been a legal resident long enough, do not qualify for many government benefit programs.

The DHS Inspector General (IG) delivered a report to Congress last week that identified a major loophole in the system that resulted in a high error rate. According to the IG’s report, one-in-eight status approvals should have been denied. The problem identified in the report was that the status of persons who were put into deportation proceedings – and therefore were no longer entitled to any benefits – was not entered into the SAVE system until and unless they left the country. The audit found aliens incorrectly approved by SAVE received benefit approvals for “…airport badges and Transportation Worker Identification Cards, which provide individuals with access to secure areas, to food stamps, driver’s licenses, and education assistance. Some individuals included in our sample had committed felonies ranging from citizenship fraud to aggravated assault.”

The good news is that the audit was conducted and identified the problem. DHS has accepted the findings of the IG’s report and has agreed to take action on all four recommendations aimed at correcting the problem.