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Muslim Man Becomes U.S. Citizen After 4-Year Wait

By Nicholas Short

Naim Zaita is now a United States citizen after attempting to gain his citizenship for nearly 4 years. Zaita, a Palestinian, applied for citizenship in 2005, but was forced to endure delays and complications. United States law states that an applicant must receive a decision about his citizenship within 120 days of the interview.

In 2008, he turned to CAIR-Chicago, who helped him take legal action against the U.S. government.

According to a CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Law Clerk, Kara Grant, Zaita’s delay was due to an unusually long process of name checks, background checks, and responses to citizenship interviews.

CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Department filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of Zaita in May of 2009. After a status hearing, Zaita received a response in July and was sworn in as a U.S. citizen later that month.

CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak says that Zaita is not the only Muslim American who has dealt with — or continues to deal with — citizenship issues. “With the Obama Administration, we have seen some improvements. But we continue to receive complaints from members of the community on this issue,” he said.

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