FBI blackmailing immigrants

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From cover of ACLU report

I’ve been skeptical of BuzzFeed in the past, but once in a while they really nail it. Case in point: a January 28 story about the FBI demanding that Muslim immigrants spy on other Muslims as a pre-condition for having their legal residence citizenship applications processed. The article begins with one man’s story:

“He was a family man, with a highly skilled 9-to-5 job. He had lived in America for nearly two decades. He went to college in America. Why would the FBI see him as a link to terrorism? And weren’t they supposed to be discussing his green card application?

“As it turned out, that’s precisely what they were discussing. ‘We know about your immigration problems,’ he recalls one of the agents telling him. ‘And we can help you with that.’ If, they said, he agreed to start making secret reports on his community, his friends, even his family.”

The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of FBI Confidential Human Sources explicitly forbids any promises or pressure about immigration status. But Buzzfeed says the FBI routinely violates the rules when it comes to Muslim immigrants. The reporters say they spoke to six immigrants and an immigration attorney The immigrants, still scared, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sometimes the pressure begins with a Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP), a review meant to ferret out any immigration applicant (for visa, permanent residence, citizenship) who might pose some kind of danger. CARRP can target anyone who has worked for a foreign government, who comes from certain countries, who has sent money abroad, or who has foreign language expertise. According to BuzzFeed, ” Just between 2008 and 2012, the case files of over 19,000 people from 18 Muslim-majority countries were rerouted through that program.” And they are not told what’s going on – their immigration applications just mysteriously bog down.

Neither the CARRP nor the FBI abuses are new. The ACLU report, “Muslims Need Not Apply,” documented both back in 2013. According to that report:

“CARRP requires USCIS officers to inform the FBI or other relevant law enforcement agencies as soon as an applicant it has labeled a “national security concern” has applied for an immigration benefit. As a result, far too often, the FBI exploits this information to blackmail applicants to work for them as informants, telling applicants that the FBI can help them get their long-delayed immigration application adjudicated and approved if they agree to snitch on their communities.”

Unlike the BuzzFeed article, the ACLU report names individuals who have been pressured by the FBI, as it tells their individual stories. Among those stories:

“Hassan Razmara applied to naturalize in 2007. In the following year, when the federal government put Hassan’s mosque under surveillance and prosecuted its imam, USCIS stalled Hassan’s naturalization process. Although he passed his naturalization examination, three months later USCIS called Hassan back for additional questioning about the mosque, with an FBI agent present in the interview. Subsequently, the same FBI agent contacted him several more times in an effort to coerce him into acting as an informant, with promises that if he agreed, his naturalization would be expedited. Hassan declined to spy on his community; years later, his USCIS application is still pending, likely at the behest of the FBI.”

The ACLU report is longer, more thorough, and ultimately more shocking than the BuzzFeed article — but I’m very glad that BuzzFeed published their article, bringing this abuse to the attention of their much wider audience. Read the BuzzFeed article here or the ACLU report here.




About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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