Press Releases

CAIR-LA Seeks Info on Anti-Muslim Bias in Naturalization

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 6/17/10) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU/SC) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), yesterday filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide a full record of all internal policies and practices relating to the treatment of naturalization applicants from Muslim countries.

In the FOIA request, the groups stated:

“[W]e are concerned that USCIS subjects naturalization applicants from Arab and Muslim countries or countries perceived to be Muslim, to heightened scrutiny and discriminatory treatment in the adjudication of their applications, scrutiny and treatment that other applicants do not face. We would like to know what policies and procedures account for this heightened scrutiny and discriminatory treatment for applicants from Arab or Muslim countries.”

The request includes information on a possible “critical country list,” or list of countries who nationals are selected for special processing, lists of questions to be asked of people from certain countries, and policies and procedures regarding the sharing of information between USCIS and other federal agencies, including the FBI.

CAIR-LA Staff Attorney and Deputy Executive Director Ameena Mirza Qazi said:

“A systematic pattern of discrimination – evident through extended administrative reviews, naturalizations interviews being postponed or canceled and queries regarding religious affiliations – involving Muslims has emerged over the years, bringing a new meaning to the concept of ‘second-class citizen.’ The degradation of our naturalization process must end and the integrity of our immigration system fully restored.”

Additionally, the ACLU/SC today sued the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for denying the naturalization application of a 50-year-old Riverside Muslim man, Tarek Hamdi, based on misleading FBI files and questionable tactics. This disturbing denial is part of what CAIR-LA, the ACLU/SC, and the NILC believe is a broader pattern of racial and religious profiling in the naturalization process aimed at blocking citizenship for individuals of Muslim countries and coercing them to become FBI informants.

SEE: Riverside Man Files Suit Alleging He was Denied Citizenship Because He is a Muslim from Egypt

CAIR-LA had consulted with Hamdi and referred him to ACLU attorneys to handle his appeal.

CAIR-LA continuously advocates on behalf of immigrants who have experienced problems in the processing of their applications or have not acquired their citizenship in a timely manner. Last year, clients assisted by CAIR-LA were granted citizenship.

Also in 2006, CAIR-LA along with the ACLU/SC and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project filed suit on behalf of Muslims who had been waiting for a long time to get their citizenship.

SEE: CAIR-LA Applauds Decision to Grant Muslims Citizenship

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847,


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