Ten Chicago area Muslim men filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government Thursday alleging their quest to become U.S. citizens is being delayed because of their Islamic faith and male gender.
The Syrian, Moroccan, Jordanian, Pakistani and Egyptian natives have no criminal records, but they have been waiting one to four years for the government to make a decision on their applications, Midwest Immigrant & Human Rights Center attorney Chuck Roth said. Some of their wives applied at the same time and have since received their U.S. citizenship.
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.