Fourteen Muslims are suing the U.S. Attorney General and heads of the FBI, Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, alleging the government has stalled their citizenship applications with indefinite background checks.
Each plaintiff is in the country legally as a permanent resident and has been waiting 2 to 5 years for their applications to be processed, according to the lawsuit filed Feb. 19 in Florida’s Middle District of federal court. When they asked about their status, officials said to simply wait longer.
The plaintiffs do not allege religious discrimination, however, they say the CIS’ expansion of FBI background checks required for naturalization has caught up several Muslims. The check now looks for “any reference to the applicant’s name (or to a similar name, or even to a common ‘fragment’ of a name) in any file in every case, and for an indefinite period of time,” according to the lawsuit.
“Even if it sounds like a name, they have to go through more than 200 different databases,” said Danette Zaghari-Mask, head of the Orlando office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “It’s targeted a lot of Muslim Americans – a lot of Muslims have very similar names.”…