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Report questions fairness of U.S. naturalization process

The process of applying for U.S. citizenship can be both frustrating and exciting. Becoming a citizen includes a number privileges that aren't granted to those with only a visa. However, immigration officials are very strict about the way in which they grant citizenship to immigrants, which can create hardship.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California recently released a report that criticizes the national security screening process used when applying for citizenship. According to the organization, the criteria for identifying national security issues are too broad and put a large segment of applicants at a disadvantage. Namely, the ACLU maintains that the national security provision unfairly targets Muslims who would like to become citizens.

The ACLU says they discovered a pattern of delays and denials among Muslims who applied for citizenship. According to the civil rights organization, this is part of a "covert" government program to find reasons to deny or blacklist specific applicants.

One of the requirements to be granted citizenship is good character. If a person has arrests on their record, they may face serious challenges when applying to become a U.S. citizen. However, a person's religious affiliation isn't a statement about their character. Everyone applying for citizenship deserves fair consideration.

The process to become a citizen is notoriously complicated, even without considering the aforementioned report. Individuals who have questions about the requirements for citizenship or would like to speed up the approval process may benefit from working with an experienced attorney. Of course, the benefits of citizenship may be well worth the effort it takes to apply, but there may also be ways to make the process less strenuous.

Source: ABC News, "ACLU: Muslims Face More Scrutiny for Citizenship," Amy Taxin, Aug. 21, 2013

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