MLFA Funds Legal Victory for Virginia Muslim
The Muslim Legal Fund of America funded the legal victory in the case of Jamal Abusamhadaneh, a respected member of the Northern Virginia Muslim community who was denied citizenship because of discriminatory government treatment based on his faith and alleged associations.
Jamal, a Jordanian by birth, came to the United States as a student in 1994 through a State Department program. He returned in 1996 and earned his masters degree. On July 10, 2002, Jamal became a lawful permanent resident of the United States. He applied for citizenship in 2008.
Since entering the country, Jamal has worked for Muslim organizations, technology companies, and health care institutions. He also worked for Fairfax County Police Department as a network analyst. He is married to a naturalized U.S. citizen and they have four U.S citizen children.
On February 13, 2008, Jamal submitted his Application for Naturalization. After unusual delays, he finally had his naturalization interview on October 5, 2009. During this interview, due to First Amendment concerns and protections, Jamal's attorney advised him against listing religious organizations. Although Jamal was ready and willing, he followed his attorney's advice and did not disclose his religious affiliations.
Sensing the interviewer's hostility toward him, Jamal told his attorney during a short break that he did not have an issue with discussing his religious affiliations. When the interview continued, he asked to clarify his previous statements to include his religious affiliations.
On April 30, 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a decision denying Jamal citizenship. They charged that he lacked the "good moral character" required by naturalization regulations and claimed he gave false testimony during his interview. This later claim was based on a discredited FBI document that falsely listed Jamal as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Jamal rightfully denied during his interview.
Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA, said that many Muslim immigrants face unusual delays and hurdles in naturalization proceedings. Meek explained that such delays and seemingly arbitrary denials often lead to expulsion of patriotic, productive members of society. These actions also result in families being separated for extended periods of time, if not permanently.
"It's not just an issue of the First Amendment or due process," said Meek. "These are real families being affected -- fathers, mothers, children as well as communities."
Jamal is now a U.S. citizen living with his family in Virginia. He attends Dar Al-Hijra Islamic Center and works in the health care industry.
"The Muslim Legal Fund of America provided the support I needed to defend myself against these false accusations," said Jamal. "Now, I'm a proud American citizen."
The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a national civil liberties legal fund that defends the U.S. Bill of Rights by supporting legal cases that involve civil liberty encroachments. Established in 2001, MLFA has defending freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many other of our nation's civil liberties. MLFA is currently funding its first U.S. Supreme Court petition to defend the Sixth Amendment's right for the accused to be confronted with witnesses against them. To learn more about MLFA, visit their website at www.mlfa.org.