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ACLU Says That Muslims Are Blacklisted For US Citizenship. By Roger Algase

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An August 21 story in the Huffington Post with the title: Muslims Blacklisted For U.S. Citizenship Under Secret Government Program, Says ACLU reports as follows:

"A government program to screen immigrants for national security concerns has blacklisted some Muslims and put their U.S. citizenship applications on hold for years, civil liberties advocates said on Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said in a report that the previously undisclosed program instructs federal immigration officers to find ways to deny applications that have been deemed a national security concern. For example, they flag discrepancies in a petition or claim that they didn't receive sufficient information from the immigrant.

The criteria used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to blacklist immigrants are overly broad and include traveling through regions where there is terrorist activity, the report said. The criteria disproportionally target Muslim immigrants, who often wait years to get a response on their citizenship applications and in some cases are denied, advocates said."

The Huffpost article cites the case of Ahmad Muhanna, a 53-year old Palestinian engineer, who applied for US citizenship with his wife. Their applications were denied after waiting nearly four years for a response.

The reason for denial was that they had failed to note in their application that they had donated money to a Muslim charity which was later declared to be a terrorist organization.

The Huffpost quoted Muhanna as saying:

"You can't just assume every Muslim is a guilty person, and every Muslim is a terrorist."


Muhanna also said, according to the article, that he had lived in the same house, with the same phone number, for 15 years, making him easily traceable.

If the ACLU report is accurate, this would raise two questions: First, if the government has information that someone might actually be a terrorist, then is sitting on that information for years and taking no other action against the person except holding up a citizenship application really the best way to protect the safety and welfare of American citizens?

How well did that strategy work, for example, in the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased Boston bomber suspect whose US citizenship application was held up, but with no other action taken against him prior to the attack?

Second, if there is not enough evidence to create a reasonable suspicion that someone might be a terrorist, is there any justification for holding up an immigration or citizenship application other than racial or religious profiling?

In order words, if the government has reason to believe that an immigration or citizenship applicant is a terrorist, it has the authority to kick the person out, and it should do so promptly.

If the government does not have such evidence, the person's application should be granted within a reasonable time, if he or she is otherwise qualified.

Unreasonably delaying, or denying, immigration or citizenship applications purely for political purposes, as the ACLU charges USCIS with doing in its report, without any other reason other than racial or religious profiling, is not going help national security or protect the safety of Americans, including preventing another 9/11 or Boston bombing.

Nor will racial or religious profiling help bring about an immigration system based on equity and fairness, rather than the stereotyping and prejudice which is the main obstacle to passing immigration reform this year.

America went through a red scare almost a hundred years ago, right after the First World War. We do not need to repeat that kind of history again.

Here is the link:

www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/muslims-blacklisted-us-citizenship_n_3791799.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

I also remember giving a talk about the Bush administration's "Special Registration" program for men from Muslim countries in the wake of 9/11, which was later cancelled as a total failure (after an estimated 10,000 people were deported for minor visa violations, without a single terrorist connection being found, if my recollection is correct).

I could feel the anxiety and dread among the men required to register and their families with whom I spoke afterward, all of whom were from a Muslim country (Indonesia). However, it is safe to assume that there was not a single Muslim present. The meeting took place inside a Catholic church.

In the decade or so that has passed since that time, I have still not been able to figure out how the Bush administration could have decided that deporting Christians would make America safer from the threat of an attack by Islamist groups.

In the same way, the Obama administration may have some explaining to do about why it thinks that denying citizenship to people purely because of their religion will make America more secure, or how it fits in with the principles of a nation dedicated to equality and governed by the rule of law.




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Updated 08-22-2013 at 03:59 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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Comments

  1. MKolken's Avatar
    I have recently had a series of new clients dealing with this exact issue.

    Thank you for blogging about it.
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Matt, I hope that something will be done about this, now that it has come to light. There might be a large number of people affected.

    Roger Algase
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