Ten Chicago-area Muslim men filed a federal lawsuit against the government Thursday claiming their citizenship applications have been postponed for years because of their national and religious background.
“In a democratic system this is how you keep a check on the government,” said Ahmed Rehab, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. The council, along with two other national organizations, helped file the suit. .
“Just because it is a government doesn’t mean what they do is right,” Rehab added.
Defendants in the suit include U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, federal immigration services and the FBI.
A government representative could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
The suit, which seeks class-action status and a jury trial, says the 10 men have been waiting for up to two years for citizenship despite having met all the requirements. The wait time should be only 120 days, the suit says.
The men are from Syria, Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt.
The suit claims one of the purported reasons for the delay in granting citizenship has been the wait for FBI background checks, which have taken years to complete.
The suit seeks the immediate granting of citizenship to the 10 men, some of whom now live in Chicago and the suburbs. The suit seeks unspecified compensation and the payment of attorneys fees.
The Chicago-based Islamic organization is currently working with more than 80 Muslim men whose citizenship applications have been extraordinarily delayed, Rehab said.