Omar Jaafar is now a United States citizen after waiting over three years for his citizenship application to be adjudicated.
Jaafar, a native citizen of Iraq, initially applied for citizenship in 2014. United States law provides that an applicant must receive a decision on a citizenship application within 120 days of the interview, however, until CAIR-Columbus attorneys filed a lawsuit for Mr. Jaafar, USCIS failed to even schedule his interview. Once the lawsuit challenging the unreasonable delay was filed, Mr. Jaafar was interviewed and approved within two months, and was officially sworn in a as citizen last week.
His attorneys suspect his case was delayed due to a little-known policy called CARRP. CARRP stands for the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program. It’s a covert program that the U.S. government began in 2008, in which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in particular U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), began giving strict extra scrutiny to immigrants and non-citizens from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities when they apply for U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent residency (a green card), and asylum.
The typical result of this added scrutiny is that applicants put on the CARRP list face long USCIS delays in the best case, and in the worst, receive a USCIS denial without prior notice, stated reason, or legal authority. In some cases, USCIS will not take any action at all, which can result in indefinite limbo.
CAIR-Columbus Legal Director Romin Iqbal says that Jaafar is not the only Muslim American who has dealt with delayed immigration issues. Under the Trump administration CAIR-Columbus has seen an increase in immigration delays of all types, and has filed immigration-related lawsuits for 19 plaintiffs this year alone. CAIR-Columbus has successfully obtained the requested immigration benefit for 14 of those plaintiffs already – lawsuits for the other five are still pending.
CAIR-Columbus has encouraged local Muslims who are facing similar delays to contact them for assistance by filing an incident report online at www.cair-columbus.com.
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. There are three CAIR chapters in Ohio- Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.