Muslim Immigrant Criticizes Secret Program

     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A Virginia man who edits a newspaper here about Palestine claims in Federal Court that immigration officials have improperly blacklisted him as a national-security concern.
     It’s been nine years since Osama Abu Irshaid applied for naturalization, but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied that application just three weeks ago, according to the complaint he filed Monday.
     With a doctorate in political science, history and international relations from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, the Annandale man serves on the board of a group called American Muslims for Palestine and is the editor-in-chief of Al Meezan.
     A predominantly Arabic-language newspaper based in Virginia, Al Meezan notes on its website that it was “established to give an Islamic perspective to reporting news about Palestine and the world.”
     American Muslims for Palestine notes that Abu Irshaid frequently appears as a political commentator on Palestinian and Middle East affairs, and U.S. politics on Arabic satellite networks, including Al Jazeera.
     Abu Irshaid says USCIS has known about his associations for roughly a decade but that the agency accused him of failing to disclose his associations when he filed for adjustment of status to that of permanent resident in 2000.
     His lawsuit contends that the unlawful denial of his application stems frm the country’s use of covert program called the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program.
     In an unrelated lawsuit last year, several Muslims represented by the American Civil Liberties Union claimed that CARRP uses “expansive” and “overbroad” criteria, including “deeply flawed” data from the government’s Terrorist Watch List.
     Jennie Pasquarella, staff attorney with the ACLU said in an interview that the case was dismissed in December after a judge granted citizenship to two of the plaintiffs, a green card to a third and denied two of the citizenship requests.
     “The CARRP program is unconstitutional and violates the immigration code because it creates eligibility criteria for approval of immigration benefits, including naturalization, that congress has not approved,” Pasquarella said.
     “Part of the unconstitutionality of it is that the program has been operating in secret … so the agency does not tell applicants that they’re subject to the progam,” she added. “So people don’t have a way to challenge the way the program is affecting them.”
     Abu Irshaid has until Sept. 12 to appeal the USCIS decision, but asked the court for judicial intervention to settle his citizenship application instead because an appeal would be “futile” given his position that “the outcome of denial is already predetermined.”
     Abu Irshaid’s attorney did not comment on the case but said in an email that any decision would be made next week.
     The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would not provide an on-the-record comment about the program.
     Pasquarella noted that the ACLU will continue to examine the legality of the program and potential legal challenges to it.

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