ACLU: Report exposes a covert U.S. Govt immigration program that unlawfully prevents many Muslim applicants from becoming citizens and lawful immigrants

LOS ANGELES AND SAN FRANCISCO – The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR), and the law firm of Mayer Brown today released a 70-page report exposing a covert government program called the “Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program” (CARRP), which was created in 2008 to make it all but impossible for many Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian individuals to become American citizens, or otherwise obtain legal residency or asylum status.

The government program was meant 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 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.

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.

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Nominee for California student regent draws rare ire

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California’s governing board confirmed its first Muslim student member Wednesday, despite some Jewish groups’ claims that she marginalized Jewish students and promoted an anti-Israel agenda.

Regents voted unanimously to ratify UC Berkeley student Sadia Saifuddin’s nomination, with one regent, Richard Blum, abstaining from the vote.

UC Berkeley senior Sadia Saifuddin was picked from a field of 30 applicants to serve on the UC Board of Regents during the 2014-15 academic year. As student regent-designate, the 21-year-old Pakistani American would participate in meetings but wouldn’t be able to cast votes during the school year that begins this fall.

Saifuddin’s critics had urged the regents to reject the nomination, pointing to a student government proposal Saifuddin co-sponsored calling for the university to divest from companies with economic ties to the Israeli military or Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The critics said it was evidence she is unqualified to represent all of the UC system’s more than 222,000 students.

Jewish Voice for Peace, a Berkeley-based group that opposes Israeli settlements in the West bank and Gaza, issued a statement Wednesday saying that Saifuddin had been “made the target of yet another intimidation and repression campaign against anyone who dares criticize Israel on campus.”

Google Has No Plans to Rethink Video Status

SAN FRANCISCO — Google said on Friday that it would not comply with a White House request to reconsider the anti-Islam video that has set off violent protests in the Arab world in light of its rules banning hate speech on YouTube, which it owns.

 

Google said it had already determined that the video did not violate its terms of service regarding hate speech. In this case, the video stays up because it is against the Islam religion but not Muslim people.

 

These actions came after Google temporarily blocked the video on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya of its own volition — not because it violated laws or YouTube’s terms of service — an extraordinary measure that it said it took in response to the delicacy of the situation. The video is accessible in the rest of the world, even as protests spread to nearly 20 countries, from North Africa to Indonesia.

Meanwhile, a Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that the company had restricted access to a link to the film in Pakistan, at the request of its government.

 

Kevin Bankston, director of the free expression project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group that focuses on digital civil liberties, said that Google, as a private company, could decide what was appropriate on its sites and what was not. But he added, “Considering the power that many of these platforms have, it’s important for them to be as clear and transparent as possible about those decisions.”

Guantanamo prisoners charged in Sept. 11 attacks seek court recess on Fridays, during Ramadan

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Lawyers for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks are asking a military court to put their legal proceedings on hold during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The lawyers also ask that no court sessions be held on Fridays, when many devout Muslims seek not to work.

Defense lawyers argue in court motions unsealed Friday that the court has an obligation to respect the men’s faith and their need to fast and pray during Ramadan, which comes in late summer this year.

Prosecutors say any blanket restriction would make it too difficult to schedule hearings.

The five defendants include the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They face the death penalty if convicted. Their next hearings are scheduled to start Aug. 8, during Ramadan.

FBI documents reveal profiling of N. California Muslims

SAN FRANCISCO–Reports obtained by the ACLU show agents gathered intelligence under the guise of outreach programs and shared it with other agencies. A legal expert calls the practice ‘outrageous.’

Federal agents routinely profiled Muslims in Northern California for at least four years, using community outreach efforts as a guise for compiling intelligence on local mosques, according to documents released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

From 2004 to 2008, agents from the San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regularly attended meetings and services, particularly in the Silicon Valley area, “collected and illegally stored intelligence about American Muslims’ First Amendment-protected beliefs and religious practices … and … disseminated it to other government agencies,” the ACLU said in a written statement.

The ACLU of Northern California, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2010 and a lawsuit in 2011 after the groups received repeated complaints from the Muslim community about intrusive FBI activity, ACLU attorney Julia Harumi Mass said.

Many of the FBI documents released Tuesday by the ACLU are titled “Mosques Liaison Contacts.” In their original form, they contained names and phone numbers of Muslim Americans affiliated with centers of worship from San Francisco to Seaside, Calif. Those names have been redacted.

Abas Idris, Muslim Security Guard, Gets $465,000 In Calif. Harassment Suit

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco jury awarded $465,000 to a Muslim security guard who says his co-workers and supervisors called him a terrorist and an al-Qaida member.

The 27-year-old says he quit his job as a security guard for Los Angeles-based Andrews International in February 2010 after the company failed to take his complaints about harassment seriously. He had served as a guard at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio.

California councilman criticized for mentioning in meeting that he named dog after Muhammad

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. — A Southern California councilman is drawing criticism for mentioning in a public meeting that he named his dog after the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on Derek Reeve to apologize for his comment at a recent San Juan Capistrano council meeting. The Islamic advocacy group says Reeve mentioned naming his dogs America and Muhammad during a discussion about a new dog park.

The Orange County Register reports that Reeve said he named his dog Muhammad as a political statement.

Jews, Muslims seek to remove initiative to ban male circumcision from San Francisco ballot

SAN FRANCISCO — An unlikely coalition of Jews and Muslims on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to block a San Francisco ballot measure that would ban the circumcision of male children, a procedure widely practiced by members of both faiths.

The case filed in San Francisco Superior Court asks the court to remove the voter initiative from the city’s Nov. 8 ballot, arguing that California law bars local governments from restricting medical procedures.
The plaintiffs include five Jews, three Muslims, two physicians who regularly perform circumcisions, the Anti-Defamation League and the local chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Appeals court reinstates case by Muslim woman in CA over forced removal of head scarf in cell

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court unanimously reinstated a lawsuit Tuesday filed by a Muslim woman who accused Southern California jailers of violating her religious freedom when they ordered her to take off her head scarf in a courthouse holding cell.

An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said plaintiff Souhair Khatib had the right to wear the scarf unless jailers can show it was a security risk.
Khatib filed the lawsuit in 2007 against Orange County. She had been jailed for several hours in November 2006 after a judge revoked her probation for a misdemeanor welfare fraud conviction.

BiH: “Arrest of Adis Medunjanin does not endanger Bosniaks in United States”

“The arrest of Adis Medunjanin, an American citizen of Bosnian origin, suspected of cooperation with terrorist organization Al-Kaida, does not affect the status of Bosniaks in the United States”, stated Head of Islamic Community in Chicago, Imam Senad Agić for Bosnian daily SAN in his phone interview.

“I’m sure that Medunjanin was not a member of our Islamic community. I can guarantee that the members of Islamic community of Bosniaks in America from our dzemats wouldn’t do such thing. Imams teach their members how one should live life with respect to others’ lives”, said Agić.

Zlatan Burzic, the Spokesman of the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs, did not have any other information on Medunjanin’s case than those that US news agencies already reported about.

“We only know that it is an American citizen whose passport was taken away during his arrest. Taking into account that the arrest was made on territory of US, Medunjanin was treated as an American citizen. Thus, our Embassy in Washington was not officially informed about that arrest neither American authority is obliged to do so. We do not have any reports that our citizens are subjects of any inconveniences. According to our information, the situation is normal in that regard and Medunjanin is, before all, an American citizen. In this moment, I’m not able to confirm if and when Medunjanin get the American citizenship”, explained Zlatan Burzic, the Spokesman of BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs.