Conflict & Justice

Suing for citizenship

This man says people never get his name right. Every time he applies for credit cards or driver's license, his name never comes out right. He fled Iraq in 2001 to join his mother and brother in Michigan. A couple years later he signed up as a linguist to serve the Iraq Army. That's how in 2006 he ended up working as a translator in Iraq. This past September he was injured in a suicide bombing outside a mosque. At the time he kept translating until all the injured were safe and earned a Purple Heart, but he's still thinking about civilian life. He has his interview with immigration officials in January and from there the law says it's only supposed to take three more months, and as a U.S. Army soldier, his case was supposed to be bumped to the top. Instead he's stuck in the same place as many other people. The ACLU is representing the man in his suit against Citizenship and Immigration Services and the FBI. This lawyer says his is one of many such cases since 2002, when the FBI required the government to expand its background checks for those seeking citizenship. This FBI spokeswoman says this was something that was necessary at that point in time, right after 9/11. the new requirements says the expanded name checks proved to be an exceedingly difficult load for the FBI to handle. By last year, the FBI had a backlog of more than 300,000 names to complete. The government has hired new staff to catch up but it'll take a while before all pending cases are cleared. Meanwhile, this ACLU lawyer says there are families waiting to be reunited. As for the former army specialist, he just wants to move on with his life.

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