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ACLU: FBI given power to thwart immigration applications for Muslims

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A secret national program which began during the George W. Bush administration and continues under President Barack Obama allows government officials to delay indefinitely immigration benefits to Muslims and those from Muslim countries, according to an explosive new report from the American Civil Liberties Union.  The program allows the FBI to flag immigrants with “national security concerns” if they traveled or lived in areas of known terrorist activity, wired money home, attended particular mosques or sat for interviews with the FBI.

The ACLU posits that the program relied upon “deeply flawed” government conclusions and overbroad “watch list systems.”   The Controlled Application Review & Resolution (“CARP”) allows for an individual to be flagged as a national security concern, their immigration application can be delayed for long periods of time with no firm deadline for adjudication.  Although the ACLU’s investigation and FOIA litigation focused upon naturalization, CARP also applies to those Muslims who apply for visas, green cards and asylum.

Anyone who has followed our immigration work at the Hacking Immigration Law is well aware of the unfounded delays that we have litigated over and over with USCIS and DHS.  Over the years, we have filed suit on behalf of 80 Muslims (and many non-Muslims) who have experienced interminable immigration delays.   One underlying argument that we have made is that the FBI name check system was never authorized by Congress and that the government did not follow the law in adopting the program.  The fact that those facing delays have no recourse except to go to Court has also been brought to light.  We will follow this story closely and look forward to seeing how this “secret” program impacted other immigration cases as well.

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