Judge: Review immigrant's residency application
Apr. 04, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge is compelling immigration officials to make a decision about an application for permanent residency brought by an Iranian immigrant who distributed leaflets for a violent organization in his home country 30 years ago.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood in Lexington ruled Thursday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and it's immigration arm "unreasonably delayed" an application brought by Mehrdad Hosseini of Lexington for 12 years. Immigration officials now have two months to make a decision on his application.
"Even accounting for complexity, courts have found delays of four years or less to be reasonable, but that delays of six years or more are unreasonable," Hood wrote.
Hosseini sued the federal government in 2013 in an attempt to force a decision on his application, which would allow him to legally stay in the United States with his wife and children. Immigration officials granted Hosseini asylum on Feb. 5, 2000, about a year after his wife, Nasrin Abdolrahmani, also received the designation.
In the suit, Hosseini said the lack of permanent residency status has caused problems with travel plans for his job as an engineer and subjected him to repeated questioning as he tried to re-enter the country on business trips.
"This process causes me a great deal of stress especially when I am told I have no residency status in the USA and am granted a temporary allowance to reside in the USA," Hosseini said. "I am always in risk of not being allowed to return home to my family."
Hosseini applied for permanent resident status April 19, 2001, seeking a legal change that would allow him to stay in the country without future concerns about being deported.
Federal officials say Hosseini was a member of two violent groups in Iran in the 1970s and 1980s. Specifically, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service said, Hossieni distributed literature for Mojahedin-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, and Fadaian-e-Khalq, known as the FEK, while living in Iran as a teenager.
The two groups were opposed to the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran. Before a revolution in 1979 that deposed the Shah, MEK members killed U.S. soldiers and civilian defense contractors. After the revolution, the two groups, who followed a Marxist and Islamist ideology, conducted a series of bombings, mortar attacks and assassinations against the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini's government.
FEK operated a training camp and guerrilla base in Tehran University and conducted small-scale insurgent-style attacks in the cities.
In her petition for asylum, Abdolrahmani said she insisted Hosseini end his association with the organizations in 1984 as a condition of their marriage. U.S. customs officials concluded that MEK and FEK engaged in terrorist activities as defined under American law.
Because Hosseini's role in distributing literature for the organizations amounted to "material support" for the organizations, he may be inadmissible as a permanent resident under the law. Hosseini's application has been forwarded for consideration of an exemption to a federal law aimed at keeping members and supporters of designated terrorist organizations out of the country.
The U.S. State Department placed such a designation on MEK in 1997.
"It has been determined that the MEK does not meet the requirements enumerated in the (legal) exemptions," said Gareth R. Canaan, section chief of the Nebraska center that processes immigration applications.
But, there's been no definitive ruling on Hosseini's application as it awaits review by the Homeland Security department, Canaan, told the court in an affidavit.
Hood was unpersuaded by the government's argument and ordered them to make a decision within two months.
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