Muslim residents sue U.S. over citizenship denials

August 1, 2014

Five long-time U.S. residents who are Muslim or from Muslim-majority countries sued the federal government on Thursday, saying the Department of Homeland Security was unfairly denying or delaying requests for citizenship and permanent residency on vague security grounds.

The plaintiffs, all immigrants who are either practicing Muslims or are from predominantly Muslim nations, complain their immigration or naturalization petitions were illegally thwarted after they were flagged for potential national security concerns under a federal program.

They complained that the criteria for flagging applications under the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) were secretive and broader than authorized by the U.S. Congress, essentially creating an immigration blacklist.

The ACLU said the five plaintiffs were among thousands of U.S. residents of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim or South Asian backgrounds who are similarly being blocked from citizenship, asylum, green cards and visas, without explanation.

The plaintiffs include Ahmad and Reem Muhanna, Palestinian Muslims and U.S. legal permanent residents whose 2007 citizenship application was denied in 2012 and is under appeal.

Fellow plaintiff Ahmed Hassan, a Muslim refugee from Somalia, has been seeking legal permanent residency since 2006.

The lawsuit comes a month after a federal judge ruled that the government’s no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights was unconstitutional because it left them no way to contest that decision.