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.

Austria Matura qualifications and citizenship

July 25, 2014

To become an Austrian citizen, one must successfully pass a German language skill exam. According to the ORF, public authorities in Austria even ask those who hold a University degree in German philology to participate at it. However, currently this procedure is discussed among politicians.

Boston Bombing suspect: Can’t use ‘betrayal’ argument

BOSTON — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev say federal prosecutors shouldn’t be allowed to use his status as a new American citizen to argue that his alleged “betrayal” of the United States is one reason he should be put to death.

In a court filing Thursday, Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors are trying to use Tsarnaev’s foreign birth and immigration history against him. They say citing his status as a newly naturalized U.S. citizen implies he is “more deserving of the death penalty” than a native-born person who commits the same crime.

Tsarnaev is awaiting trial on 30 federal charges in the 2013 marathon bombing. Twin bombs placed near the finish line of the marathon ripped into crowds gathered to watch the annual event, killing three people and injuring more than 260. At least 16 people lost limbs.

“Resentment of Tsarnaev’s immigration status and history is perhaps natural, given the nature of the crimes charged, and it is surely very widespread. But the fact that he had only recently become a citizen, standing alone, does not increase his moral or legal guilt, and it should not be permitted,” Tsarnaev’s lawyers argue in the motion.

Muslims Blacklisted For U.S. Citizenship Under Secret Government Program, Says ACLU

August 21, 2013

By Amy Taxin

 

LOS ANGELES — 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 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 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 disproportionately target Muslim immigrants, who often wait years to get a response on their citizenship applications and in some cases are denied, advocates said.

The ACLU learned about the program through records requests after detecting a pattern in cases of Muslim immigrants whose applications to become American citizens had languished.

“It is essentially creating this secret criteria for obtaining naturalization and immigration benefits that has never been disclosed to the public and Congress hasn’t approved,” said Jennie Pasquarella, an ACLU staff attorney and the author of the report.

“I feel like ultimately this is just about politics. They don’t want to be seen as having granted citizenship to somebody who’s going to be the next Boston bomber,” she said.

It was not immediately clear how many immigrants have been reviewed under the program, which began in 2008 and is formally known as the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program.

Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency routinely checks the background of immigrants applying for benefits and prioritizes the country’s safety and the integrity of the immigration system.

“We are vigilant in executing these responsibilities, and will not sacrifice national security or public safety in the interest of expediting the review of benefit applications,” Bentley said in a statement.

Under the program, immigration officers determine whether a case poses a national security concern and confer with the appropriate law enforcement agency that has information about the immigrant. Officers then conduct additional research and put many cases on hold for long periods of time. Most applications are eventually denied, as the program states that officers are not allowed to approve such cases without additional review, the report said.

Ahmad Muhanna, a 53-year-old Palestinian engineer, said he and his wife applied to become Americans as soon as they were eligible six years ago. They waited nearly four years for a response and were rejected because immigration officers said they failed to note on their application form an association with a Muslim charity to which they had donated money that U.S. authorities later declared a terrorist organization, he said.

Muhanna said the couple has appealed, but the wait has taken its toll. The couple, who lives in a Dallas suburb, missed their eldest daughter’s engagement in Gaza because they feared traveling abroad might jeopardize their green cards. And they haven’t been able to vote, something they’ve wanted to do for some time.

“You can’t just assume every Muslim is a guilty person, and every Muslim is a terrorist,” said Muhanna, adding that he agreed to be interviewed by the FBI with a lawyer present and has lived in the same house, with the same phone number for 15 years, making him easily traceable. “I have chosen this country to be my home and I want to be a citizen.”

 

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/muslims-blacklisted-us-citizenship_n_3791799.html

Dual Nationality in Germany: Double Standards in the Citizenship Debate

December 5, 2013

 

Summary: If a Turk receives and keeps German citizenship in addition to his own Turkish nationality, then he suffers an identity crisis. If a German were to additionally obtain Turkish citizenship however, this would be no problem at all. A commentary by Prof. Klaus J. Bade.

Full story at Qantara.de – http://en.qantara.de/content/dual-nationality-in-germany-double-standards-in-the-citizenship-debate

Germany’s Disputed Dual Citizenship Law ”Everyone Must Be Able to Participate”

The German government’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Markus Löning (FDP), is critical of citizenship laws that force young Turks to choose between German and Turkish nationalities. His view breaks with government policy to date. Daniel Brössler spoke to him

It was a compromise that now forces thousands of young descendants of immigrants in Germany to make a tough decision. Since the year 2000, a regulation has been in force granting immigrants’ children born in Germany since 1990 the right to a German passport. They are temporarily allowed to retain the passport of their parents’ homeland alongside the German one. But by the time they have turned 23 at the latest, they must give up one citizenship, as long as their parents do not come from an EU country, for example.

This has led to quite a number of Germans becoming foreigners again since the beginning of the year. The CDU and CSU, which pushed the compromise through against proposals to fine-tune the legislation by the SPD and the Greens, are keen to maintain the option obligation. But the SPD says if it wins the election it will do away with the ruling – an approach now supported by the government’s Commissioner for Human Rights, FDP politician Markus Löning.

 

Canadian Minister Claims Wide Support for country’s ‘burqa ban’

News Agencies  – January 23, 2012

A month after Canada banned Muslim women from covering their faces during citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the policy has won widespread support. Speaking at a Muslim Canadian Congress event honouring his “courageous decision,” Mr. Kenney said polling shows that eight out of 10 Canadians agreed with the decision while only 14% were opposed. He said he would not act on suggestions to hold separate citizenship ceremonies for Muslim women who cover their faces in public.

The minister characterized the new rule as part of a broader strategy to strengthen the value of citizenship in Canada, which he said has the highest rate of naturalization of any country in the developed world. While the audience gathered at a Toronto hotel spoke mostly in support of the niqab ban, one woman said she was “extremely offended” by the comments she had heard. “If somebody believes in it [the niqab] then it’s their right to practise it,” said Fatema Dada of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration minister against burqa law

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney doesn’t believe in banning the burqa. But Mr. Kenney does think Canadians, Muslim or otherwise, should have to identify themselves visually when voting in federal elections. These comments emerged relating to Bill C-623, a private member’s bill from Conservative MP Steven Blaney. Bill C-623 mandates that “en elector shall have an uncovered face when the elector is proving his or her identity.” But it does not change the acceptable ways of proving one’s identity. One can still provide either a driver’s licence or health card (as long as it has your photograph, name and address on it), or “two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer each of which establish the elector’s name and at least one of which establishes the elector’s address” — a hydro bill and a bank statement, for example.
MPs are trying to require voters to show both photo ID and their faces, so a poll worker can compare the former to the latter. However, it’s true that it’s illogical to worry about Muslim women hypothetically voting while veiled even as 250,000 people vote by mail, but that discrepancy already exists: We demand identification of people who vote in person, but not of those who vote by mail.

French MPs Vote to Strip Criminal Immigrants of their Citizenship

October 12, 2010
French lawmakers approved a bill to strip foreign-born criminals of their French nationality and expel EU citizens for certain crimes, all part of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s law and order crackdown. Members of the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, passed the measure after a first reading by 294 votes to 239 in a vote overshadowed by mass strikes and demonstrations against Sarkozy’s pensions reforms.

The law would strip French nationality from foreigners who had acquired citizenship and who were convicted of violent crimes against police and other officials. This punishment currently applies only to terrorism charges. It would also allow police to deport foreign nationals, including those from other European Union countries, for repeated acts of theft, aggressive begging or for illegally occupying land.

The bill must be examined by a parliamentary commission before it can be voted into law.

Call for Papers: “Multiculturalism in a Globalised Society: European Muslims, Identity and Citizenship”

Venue: Park Campus, University of Northampton,
Northampton NN2 7AL, UK

This conference gathers academics, journalists, researchers, policy makers, youth workers, civil society organisations and other members of the public to discuss issues around Muslims in Europe, identity, citizenship and belonging. It aims to address issues relating to Muslims’ engagement or disengagement with the mainstream European society; what challenges are there for their positive participation in the success of the multiculturalism model. It will also aim to map out Muslims’ use of the media and the extent to which that helps define who they are.

Conference themes:

This conference will cover (but not necessarily limited to) the following areas of enquiry:

– European or Muslim: What do Muslims in Europe believe to be their identity?

– Multiculturalism and Integration: What does this actually mean?

– Active citizenship: What does this mean in Islamic terms?

– The relationship between British Muslims and the global Muslim community – the Ummah.

– The rise of political Islam – Islamism

– Post 9/11 Radicalisation and terrorism

– New media and youth/women empowerment.

– Youth subcultures and new media, what is going on?

– What functions are the internet and satellite TV playing in engaging/disengaging Muslim communities?

Call for submissions:
Abstracts of no more than 400 words, along with a short bio should be submitted by the 15th October 2010. Papers should reflect one or more of the conference themes mentioned above. Particularly welcome are papers based on empirical work and a clear research method (s).

Submission deadlines:
Submission of abstracts: 15th October 2010
Notification of acceptance: 3rd November 2010
Submission of full papers: 26th January 2011
Selected conference papers will be published in an edited volume.

Please send all submissions and enquiries to Dr Noureddine Miladi (conference coordinator), E-mail: noureddine.miladi@northampton.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1604 892104