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Citizenship denials and long delays for Muslims, alleges lawsuit

Georgia readers who are interested in immigration issues may be concerned about a recent lawsuit filed against the federal government. According the lawsuit, a 2008 program targeting applicants who may be a national security concern has resulted in lengthy delays and denials for Muslims seeking green cards and citizenship. The lawsuit was filed on July 31 by the American Civil Liberties Union and alleges that the program, known as the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program, uses criteria that are too broad, causing lengthy delays for applications filed by Somali, Iranian and Palestinian citizens.

According to an ACLU staff attorney, mechanisms are already in place that prevent people who pose a threat to the U.S. from receiving benefits or citizenship. The lawsuit claims that the criteria used to label applicants as a possible security risk are too broad. The criteria include the identities of a person's associates or relatives as well as travel through areas where terrorist activity is taking place. Immigration officers are supposed to delay making a decision or deny applications filed by individuals who have been identified by the program.

Individuals who may have been unfairly discriminated against during the process of applying for either a green card or U.S. citizenship may be entitled to apply a second time. An attorney with a background in immigration cases could review a person's application and background to determine whether discrimination may be a factor in the denial.

In the event that the applicant was denied due to discrimination, the attorney might file a lawsuit or advise the applicant to join a class-action suit. If the person was wrongly denied citizenship, the attorney could appeal to have the decision overturned.

Source: ABC News, "Lawsuit Alleges Muslim Citizenship Denials, Delays", Amy Taxin, July 31, 2014

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