Mohammed Reza Ghaffarpour believed his path to citizenship would be smooth after he aced his 2003 English and U.S. history exam and received a letter saying he was being recommended for approval.
Instead, his case is a study in how concerns over terrorism are further weighing down a system already suffering from limited resources amid a surge in citizenship applications.
After a long legal battle, Ghaffarpour, 53, was sworn in as a U.S. citizen last Thursday, six years after he applied in 2002. But not before immigration authorities sought to paint the Iranian-born chemical engineering professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago as a potential threat to national security. . .
After a judge ordered that his application be promptly processed, officials told Ghaffarpour by mail that he had been denied for not disclosing the trips abroad.
It was later revealed that the flights to Iran were listed on his application and in his passport. The "trips" to Germany were dropped as an issue. Ghaffarpour's attorneys said that during one hearing, government officials asked Ghaffarpour whether he had ever attended a terrorist training camp or traveled to Afghanistan, Syria or other Middle Eastern countries he had never been to.
"They had absolutely no fact to go on whatsoever," said Christina Abraham, civil rights director for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which represented Ghaffarpour. (MORE)