If Abdullah Hassan were a U.S. citizen, he says he’d have likely voted for the GOP in Tuesday’s election.

“I like Republicans because they removed Saddam from power,” said Hassan, a Kurdish asylee from Iraq.

However, more than a year after he’s met all the requirements for citizenship, Hassan is still waiting to be naturalized.

Hassan completed his citizenship interview Aug. 12, 2005, and that’s normally the last step before naturalization.

However, Hassan’s name apparently hasn’t been cleared from an FBI name list, which is part of the background check for citizenship applicants.

A person may be singled out if his name has surfaced in an investigation, either as a target of the investigation, associate or witness, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said.

Fewer than 1 percent of the names submitted take longer to clear than the normal six-month processing time between a citizenship application and interview, said Sharon Rummery, spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“We regret people have to wait, but the American public demands a thorough background check,” Rummery said. “That’s what the FBI does.”

However, Margaret Plane of the ACLU of Utah said it seems inconsistent with security concerns to take years to determine whether or not a person is a security risk.

“It’s such a wide net, it’s certainly catching a lot of people,” she said. “It does seem a disproportionate number of people have Muslim-sounding names.”

Federal law allows those who don’t receive an answer within 120 days after completing a citizenship interview to take their cases to court to seek resolution either in favor of or against their application. . .

Class-action lawsuits representing those who have waited longer are popping up in other states, and in Utah some individual cases are being filed. . .

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Chicago’s Citizenship Delay Project is helping Muslim immigrants individually and also is pursuing a class-action lawsuit.


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