NYU Law Report Alleges Governmental Discrimination in US Naturalization Process, ADC to Discuss Report Findings

Washington, DC | April 24, 2007 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomes a new report on causes and impacts of the US Naturalization process released today by New York University (NYU) School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ). According to the report, the US government is illegally delaying the naturalization applications of thousands of immigrants by profiling individuals it perceives to be Muslim and subjecting them to indefinite security checks. Read the report online at: http://www.chrgj.org/AmericansOnHold.html
The 63-page report, titled “Americans on Hold: Profiling, Citizenship, and the ‘War on Terror,'” documents the impact of expanded security checks on the lives of those experiencing citizenship delays, often for years on end. The report analyzes these delays and their impact within an international human rights framework. It also offers specific policy recommendations to help end human rights violations and discrimination in access to citizenship. ADC Legal Advisor Lema Bashir, will be speaking at the public launch and discussion sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law, today at 6:00 pm at NYU‘s Furman Hall, Room 214 (245 Sullivan Street). Additional report release information is included below, for other information please contact Michelle Williams at williams@juris.law.nyu.edu williams@juris.law.nyu.edu> or see: http://www.chrgj.org/docs/AOH/AmericansOnHoldFlier-FINAL.pdf
According to the report, since September 11, 2001, the government has folded immigration bodies into national security institutions and has institutionalized a policy of discrimination against immigrants perceived to be Muslim on the basis of their name, race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. While ADC understands the need for security and background checks in the citizenship application process, it has been concerned by the excessively long delays in the processing of applications from Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian men. Numerous cases have been reported to ADC and in April 2006, ADC launched a campaign to highlight the issue, for more details see: https://www.adc.org/index.php?id=2792
Federal law requires U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to grant or deny citizenship within 120 days of an applicant’s examination. USCIS has also set a policy goal of processing applications within six months from the time of filing. Data from the Department of Homeland Security reveals that more than two-thirds of the over 2.2 million applications filed since April 1, 2001 were not processed within 180 days; more than 776,000 applicants had been waiting for more than a year; approximately 158,000 applicants had been waiting for more than two years; while approximately 41,000 had been waiting for three years or more. According to the USCIS Ombudsman, prolonged name checks “significantly delay adjudication of immigration benefits for many applicants, hinder backlog reduction efforts, and rarely, if ever, achieve their intended national security objectives.”
As a State party to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights the US is obligated to ensure non-discrimination in access to citizenship as well as other human rights. A number of expert human rights bodies have affirmed that the “war on terror” cannot be invoked to deny non-citizens’ rights.
1-Ensure that decisions on naturalization applications are made within 120 days of examination, as required by law. USCIS’ attempts to circumvent this law by ordering offices not to schedule interviews until security clearances are completed should be investigated and proscribed.
2-Ensure that the overall naturalization process is completed within USCIS’ stated six-month goal.
In order to address the current backlog of citizenship applications, our government should:
1- Institute greater reporting requirements for USCIS and DHS on the extent of, and reasons behind, citizenship delays; and require reports to disaggregate statistics regarding citizenship delay by race, sex, ethnicity, national origin, and religion;
2-Institute Congressional oversight hearings into key issues affecting the citizenship process;
3-Introduce institutional changes within relevant government agencies to increase transparency and resolve complaints;
4-Introduce anti-discrimination training for immigration and law enforcement officials; and
5-Ensure greater public education about the human rights implications of discriminatory profiling and citizenship delays.
To download the full report, a summary briefing paper, a one-page summary translated into Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali, report-related podcasts, and information on two launch events this week, please visit: http://www.chrgj.org/AmericansOnHold.html
Press teleconference, 12 p.m., Tuesday, April 24, 800-869-6581 (mention “Americans on Hold”) Public Launch at NYU School of Law, 6 pm EST, Tuesday, April 24, Rm 214, 245 Sullivan Street See information at: http://www.chrgj.org/docs/AOH/AmericansOnHoldFlier-FINAL.pdf
Or: https://www.adc.org/index.php?id=3088
Brooklyn Community Launch, 2 pm EST, Friday, April 27, 1081 Coney Island Avenue. Press welcome to attend all events.

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