Court Hands Trump Administration Another Defeat on Immigration
Allows Lawsuit Challenging Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Program to Proceed as a Class Action
SEATTLE — A federal district court in Washington state Wednesday rejected the Trump administration’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit targeting a once-secret program used to deny qualified Muslim immigrants from obtaining citizenship and permanent residency status, and also granted the case class-action status.
The Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program, known as CARRP, was secretly created in 2008 and was exposed by the ACLU of Southern California in 2013. It is ostensibly used to vet immigration applicants for national security concerns, but in practice bars — without legal authority — Muslim immigrants from becoming U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
The ACLU, including the Southern California, Washington state, and national offices; the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project; the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild; the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin; and Perkins Coie LLP filed a lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of five individuals whose applications for citizenship and legal residency were delayed for long periods of time — even years — without ever being informed why. The lawsuit argues that the policies violate federal laws and constitutional protections.
The court’s decision permits the plaintiffs to seek an injunction against the Trump administration’s “extreme vetting” program on a nationwide basis.
“The decision makes this the first national class action challenging the legality of the government’s secret ‘vetting’ program used to block eligible Muslim immigrants from naturalizing as U.S. citizens or obtaining permanent residency,” said Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants’ rights and senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California.
Under the CARRP program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services covertly labels law-abiding applicants “national security concerns.” It then places their applications in limbo or denies them for spurious reasons. The “security concerns” are often based on nothing more than lawful religious activity, national origin, and innocuous associations.
Muslim residents who present no threat at all, let alone any threat to national security, are caught in the CARRP trap, even if they are legally eligible for naturalization or a green card. The agency does not let such individuals know that they had been labeled a threat to our nation or give them an opportunity to contest to the allegations.
“By granting class certification and denying the motion to dismiss, the court has shined a spotlight on the administration’s efforts to operate beyond the legal framework created by Congress,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Just like our named plaintiffs who were immediately approved after we filed this law suit, there are thousands of other law-abiding residents who are unjustly targeted by this secret program.”
The decision comes just weeks after President Trump tweeted that the government was “EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!”
More information about the CARRP program can be found here: www.aclusocal.org/carrp.
The opinion can be found here: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/69_-_order_on_class_cert_and_mtd.pdf
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