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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, May 5, 2006

Sitting there in limbo, waiting for the citizenship papers to come.

Amid all the right-wng whining about all those immigrants who supposedly don't want to be citizens, I'm sure you're not going to hear them mention anything like what a group of Muslim men in Chicago are facing: These men want to become US citizens but can't — all because of footdragging and stonewalling by the feds.

And before you say that the government doesn't have to grant citizenship to anyone unless it wants to, and that the feds naturally have to run security checks to make sure that terrorists don't become citizens, know this: The men have passed all the requirements for citizenship, other than the security check. And some of their wives applied to be citizens at the same time, and have already been granted citizenship. If that situation isn't suspicious, I don't know what is.

Working with the Midwest Immigrant & Human Rights Center, the Muslim men have <filed a federal class action lawsuit against against US attorney general Alberto Gonzales and top officials at Homeland Security and the FBI, alleging that the delays in granting their citizenship are based on the mens' religious beliefs and gender &#!51; in other words, on the fact that they are Muslim and male. They're asking the court to order that they be sworn in as citizens, and to force the feds to produce records on how long members of different ethnic groups have to wait to become citizens. Immigration rights activists have already tried to get that information via the Freedom of Information Act, but the goverment has refused to produce it.

From the Chicago Tribune story:

The men are permanent legal residents who say they should have been sworn in as citizens within 120 days of meeting all the requirements. Instead, they said they have been kept waiting for a year or more.

Meanwhile, "hundreds of thousands of other people seeking to be naturalized" have had their swearing-in ceremonies, the lawsuit said.

"They're in limbo," said Christina Abraham, civil rights coordinator for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, an advocacy group that represents the plaintiffs. "These are people who don't have any criminal record whatsoever. ... They don't know why they've been delayed. They've done everything they can do."

And from the Chicago Sun-Times story:

The plaintiffs, including the Council on American Islamic Relations' Chicago office, agree the government must conduct background checks on all potential citizens. But they say Muslim men, more than any other group, have their cases delayed too often with no explanation.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Marilu Cabrera said 99 percent of background checks are resolved within six weeks and 80 percent within three. "Until we get clearance from the FBI, for national security reasons, we cannot grant citizenship," she said.

CAIR's Chicago office says that it's received 80 complaints about similar delays in granting citizenship, and that similar reports have been made to the group's offices in other parts of the country.

It's all just another reason to be oh-so-proud to be an American, isn't it?

| | Posted by Magpie at 2:47 PM | Get permalink




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