As’Salaamu Alaikum Community Members,
During the month of February, CAIR-SFBA’s legal team assisted clients through consultations and direct legal services for issues including immigration application assistance, law enforcement interactions, and educating community members on applying for unemployment assistance.
As an example of CAIR-SFBA’s continuing fight against anti-Muslim bias in immigration policies, CAIR-SFBA’s Immigrants’ Rights Attorney, Sahar Mousavi, successfully challenged United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) extensive delay in determining the eligibility for citizenship on behalf of one of our community members.
The client, an individual who had immigrated to the U.S. from Iran over 15 years ago, had been awaiting a response to his naturalization application, having first applied in 2016. We filed a writ of mandamus in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for him as a last resort measure. A mandamus essentially petitions the court to order a government official, here the Director of USCIS, to properly fulfill their duties in adjudicating the application and coming to a final decision.
Unfortunately, many American Muslims experience significant delays in their citizenship applications, sometimes even lasting years. Since 2008, USCIS has used the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP), an internal and covert policy that has neither received Congressional approval nor been subjected to public notice and comment, to investigate and adjudicate applications and petitions deemed to present potential “national security concerns”. CARRP prohibits USCIS officers from approving an application with a potential “national security concern” and directs officers to either deny or indefinitely delay adjudication. This practice is in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) since it erodes the standard of having uniform rules set by the INA for the naturalization process. The community member was one of the many individuals belonging to Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities that are possibly subjected to CARRP. Moreover, USCIS fails to notify the community member that he had been deemed a “national security concern” and fails to provide any reasons for this determination.
After filing the mandamus, USCIS finally scheduled an interview to adjudicate the application. Finally, USCIS approved the client’s application and he is now a U.S. Citizen.
If you or a family member find yourself in need of legal consultations regarding naturalization, adjustment of status, or asylum applications, please reach out to our Immigrants’ Rights Program through our immigration assistance form.
Ammad Rafiqi, Esq.
Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator