Religion

Secret Government Program Bars Muslims From U.S. Citizenship, Report Alleges

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The U.S. government runs a secret program to prevent Muslims from gaining U.S. citizenship, according to a report by the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU report, titled “Muslims Need Not Apply,” states that “under a previously unknown national security program known as the ‘Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program’ [CARRP], the government excludes many applicants from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities from these opportunities by delaying and denying their applications without legal authority.”

Under U.S. immigration law, the U.S. Citizenship an Immigration Services are supposed to decide on citizenship applications within six months. But the ACLU study found cases of Muslim immigrants who waited anywhere from 2.5 to 13 years. In fact, in one case cited in the study, an aspiring citizen has been on hold 13 years with no decision.

The ACLU report grew from a lawsuit by Egyptian immigrant and legal U.S. resident Tarek Hamdi (pictured), whose citizenship application was delayed 11 years.

The CAARP program was intended to prevent people who might pose a national security threat, but ACLU lawyer Jennie Pasquarella, who wrote the report, said the government applies “criteria that ultimately have nothing to do with real security concerns.”

In Hamdi’s case, one of his denials in 2008 cited a financial donation he made to the Benevolence International Foundation, a group ostensibly providing humanitarian aide to trouble spots in the Arab world. The Justice Department later found that the group was deceiving donors, diverting funds without their knowledge to rebels in Bosnia and Chechnya.

Though Hamdi said he was one of those duped donors and his donation was fully legal, he was denied citizenship at that time anyway.

Other reasons cited for denying citizenship applications are travel to areas where terror groups are known to operate or the presence of an applicant’s name on the Terrorist Watch List.

The list contains more than 875,000 names and is notoriously flawed. The late, legendary U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy once discovered that his own name was on the list.

No one knows how many Muslims have been screened out under the CAARP program.

SOURCES: NBC News 4 Los Angeles, Associated Press, ACLU of Southern California (2)