Judge Raps FBI’s Knuckles in Immigration Case



Wendy Cook

It’s no surprise that even though one out of every six Iraqis has either fled the country or been driven out of their homes — a total of more than 4 million, so far — the Bush regime isn’t exactly welcoming them into the U.S. with open arms. Emma Lazarus notwithstanding, the U.S. has admitted only a few handfuls: a total of 68 in the seven months ending in May, according to one report.

And that goes for people with connections, as well. Now the judge in the Martha Stewart case, Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, has taken the FBI to task. In a ruling a couple of weeks ago that flew under everyone’s radar, the Southern District federal judge ordered the FBI and immigration officials to take action — but quick — in the case of Omar Al-Farisi, an Iraqi who already lives in Manhattan.

A legal permanent resident of New York since 1999, Al-Farisi filed his application for naturalization on February 9, 2005. That November he was interviewed by an officer of the federal Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and was told that he passed all tests but couldn’t become a citizen until the FBI completed a “name check.”

Good luck with that. Government officials wouldn’t even return his phone calls. Finally he went to court with a high-powered attorney from White & Case.

Taking a cue from Dick Cheney (and from Kafka), the government argued that the federal court has no jurisdiction and that Al-Farisi has no claim to make until the FBI completes the name check.

Goldman kept it simple, ordering the FBI on June 14 to “expedite and complete Mr. Al-Farisi’s name check and report the results to the CIS within 30 days of this order.” And she also ruled:

The CIS shall determine Mr. Al-Farisi’s application within 30 days of receiving the FBI’s name check report and, if Al-Farisi is eligible for naturalization, permit him to be sworn in as a citizen within 30 days of the CIS’ determination.