Muslim immigrants sue US over blocking citizenship

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

Five long-term US residents who identify as Muslim or come from Muslim-majority countries are suing the federal government, saying that the Department of Homeland Security unfairly denied or delayed their requests for citizenship and permanent residency without providing clear reason, Al-Arabiya reported Friday.

The plaintiffs, who are all American Muslims or were born in majority-Muslim countries, say that their immigration or naturalization petitions were shot down after being flagged for security concerns.

The criteria for flagging applications under the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) is secretive and broader than authorized by US Congress, according to the plaintiffs. This means that those whose applications are denied are effectively placed on an immigration blacklist with little or no paths of contesting the decision.

“Our clients are long-time, law-abiding residents of the United States who, for years, the government has walled off from becoming citizens and lawful residents of this country without legal authority to do so,” said Jennie Pasquarella, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, Al-Arabiya reported.

“Under this unfair and unconstitutional program, the government has blacklisted their applications without telling them why and barred them from upgrading their immigration status in violation of the immigration laws,” she said in a statement.

The ACLU has reported that the plaintiffs are among thousands of US residents of majority-Muslim nationalities who are being blocked from citizenship, asylum, green cards, and visas without explanation.

Plaintiff Ahmed Hassan, a refugee from Somalia, has been seeking legal permanent residency status since 2006 to no avail.

Plaintiff Neda Behmanesh, an Iranian citizen married to an American, has seen her naturalization application denied even after passing a US citizenship exam.

CARRP includes anyone on the US Terrorist Watchlist along with those associated with names on that list, even in absence of credible information on their activities, the ACLU reported.