The ACLU of Southern California sued the federal government Wednesday for denying the citizenship application of a 50-year-old Egyptian Muslim man based on what the civil rights group calls "misleading FBI files and questionable tactics."
Tarek Hamdi, a father of four, has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years. He also was a lawful, permanent resident for more than two decades. It took the government nine years to process Hamdi’s citizenship application.
It was eventually rejected because Hamdi allegedly failed to claim that he was "associated" with the Benevolence International Foundation, a group designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2002 as a financier of terrorism.
In fact, Hamdi has never been associated with the group, according to the ACLU.
"Tarek Hamdi is like dozens of other upstanding individuals from Muslim countries who meet all the requirements for citizenship but are turned away because of a constellation of discriminatory practices," said Jennie Pasquarella, an ACLU staff attorney representing Hamdi in his lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Hamdi, an engineer who lives in Riverside, said the experience has been an exercise.
"I always played by the rules," Hamdi said in a statement. "I paid taxes, contribute to society and raised a beautiful family. I have been treated differently because I am a Muslim man."
-- Ching-Ching Ni