A lawsuit recently filed by an Islamic organization in Missouri raises concerns that Muslims may be facing longer waits for citizenship because of their religion.
Thirteen Muslims from Missouri are suing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), claiming the department conspired with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to delay their claims for citizenship.
According to a report in Mother Jones, the lawsuit’s complaint alleges that the applications for naturalization in the United States went into a secretive Bush-era program called the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP). As part of the little-known program, immigration officials were ordered to flag applicants that they believed might pose a threat to national security.
The lawsuit was filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in May. It takes aim at the CARRP program which was uncovered by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2013.
The lawsuit says the CARRP program has illegally branded “innocent, law-abiding residents,” like the 13 Muslims who, it says, pose no security threat.
How Long Have the Muslims Been Waiting?
Immigration attorneys acting for the Muslims say they have been waiting for anything from three to five years for citizenship.
The Mother Jones article highlighted the case of a 49-year-old Iraqi woman named Wafaa Alwan, who applied for citizenship at the end of 2014. She faced a wait of eight months for an interview, which eventually took place on Aug. 31, 2015. She has been waiting to hear a decision on her naturalization ever since. A Pakistani immigrant called Syed Asghar Ali, made his original application in March 2014 and has been in limbo for more than two years, the claim states.
Although the amount of time it takes to become a U.S. citizen varies from location to location, USCIS states in this recent frequently asked questions document that it is cutting wait times and it is looking to reduce processing times to six months once the initial form N-400 is filed.
It, therefore, seems suspicious that these Muslims have waited so long. It makes us wonder about the extent of the secretive CARRP program and how many other permanent residents have been caught up in it.
There are many factors that are taken into consideration in citizenship applications and the road to naturalization can be a long and winding one.
A seasoned Texas immigration lawyer could make the difference in the eventual success of your application. Peek & Toland offers experienced, bilingual legal assistance to those who wish to take the next step to becoming a United States citizen. Call us at (512) 474-4445.