Muhanna v USCIS is a suit filed by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the national ACLU and the law firms of Jones Day and Stacy Tolchin, which charges that a little-known government program that is being used to deny thousands of law-abiding people citizenship, green cards, asylum and visas on counterterrorism grounds program violates immigration law, and is unconstitutional because it was adopted without any congressional approval and violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process.
The program the lawsuit challenges is called the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP), adopted in 2008 by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that reviews and adjudicates immigration applications. CARRP stipulates that applications with a potential “national security concern” be denied or delayed, often indefinitely.

Our clients are Ahmad and Reem Muhanna, two Palestinian nationals; Neda Behmanesh and Abrahim Mosavi, two citizens of Iran; and Ahmed Osman Hassan, a Somali refugee.

Read more about our clients, and learn more about CARRP.

Case Timeline

July 31, 2014
ACLU SoCal, the Immigrant Rights Project and the National Security Project of the national ACLU Foundation and the law firms of Jones Day and Stacy Tolchin file a national lawsuit challenging the federal government’s use of CARRP, a covert immigration and national security program to bar law-abiding applicants from obtaining citizenship and lawful residence, and other immigration benefits. Read the complaint.

August 2013 | ACLU SoCal, along with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and the law firm of Mayer Brown release the report Muslims Need Not Apply that reveals how the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) uses faulty watch lists and overbroad criteria to identify so-called "national security concerns."

June 2013 | In addition to acquired material through previous Freedom of Information Act requests and litigation, ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) sues USCIS to obtain further information essential to a more comprehensive understanding of how CARRP operates.

February 2012 | After a three-day trial, a federal district court judge rejects all of USCIS’s claims for why Tarek Hamdi is ineligible to become a U.S. naturalized citizen, and swears him an as an American citizen a few months later.

2008 | In place of the FBI Name Check delays, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implements covert agency program, the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program, or CARRP, which secretly excludes many of those aspiring Americans from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities from the promises of citizenship, legal residency, asylum and other benefits by delaying and denying their applications without legal authority.

2008 | The backlog due to the FBI Name Check ceases to exist, as a series of class action lawsuits were filed across the country challenging the lengthy naturalization delays that the FBI Name Check created.

November 2002 | The adoption of a new rule requires that all applications for immigration benefits undergo an additional security check, known as the FBI Name Check, before adjudication. As part of the FBI Name Check, the agency runs an applicant’s name through other FBI files and databases to determine whether or not an applicant’s name appears in any file or database. A backlog ensues and hundreds of thousands of applicants have their cases put on hold until their Name Check could be processed.

2001 | Tarek Hamdi, an Egyptian national and practicing Muslim who has legally lived in the United States for twenty-five years, submits his naturalization application. By law, federal officials are required to process his application within six months. But Hamdi’s application is put on hold, and he spends the next 11 years fighting to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Kerry C. Fowler and Charlotte Wasserstein, Jones Day; Stacy Tolchin, Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin; James E. Gauch, Jones Day; Lee Gelernt, Hina Shamsi, Hugh Handeyside and Dror Ladin, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

Date filed

July 30, 2014


United States District Court Central District of California

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