(CHICAGO, IL, 6/12/08) – The Northern District Court of Illinois today granted a Chicago Muslim man his citizenship after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) filed a lawsuit against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for its delay in processing the application.
Despite successfully passing his naturalization exam in 2002, CAIR-Chicago’s client, Dr. Mohammed Reza Ghaffarpour, was delayed naturalization pending a background check. The Court ruled to naturalize Ghaffarpour despite attempts by the USCIS to deny his application after the lawsuit had already begun. According to court documents, USCIS alleged that Ghaffarpour’s multiple visits to Iran in recent years showed that he was “not attached to the principles of the United Stated Constitution” and not “well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.” The court rejected these and other attempted allegations, and found Ghaffarpour to be credible.
“Our client suffered immensely over the six years of delays he faced and would have been unlikely to gain his citizenship unless the Court had intervened.” said CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham. “USCIS’s allegations stemming from his visits to Iran and identity as a Muslim reflect increasing concerns about discriminatory citizenship practices.”
SEE: CAIR’s Legislative Fact Sheet on Citizenship Delays
CAIR-Chicago’s client was personally sworn in by the presiding Northern Illinois District Court judge instead of the usual group oath ceremony. Litigation by CAIR-Chicago has shown that men from Muslim countries are twice as likely to experience lengthy delays as others. CAIR-Chicago launched the Citizenship Delay Project in 2005 to represent individuals experiencing delays and recommend policy changes to prevent unreasonable delays.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.
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