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Immigration Law

Doctor, Soldier Among Plaintiffs Suing Feds Over Delayed Background Checks

Posted Jun 26, 2007 8:22 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A 30-year physician in Texas and a former member of the U.S. Army National Guard might seem to be unlikely national security risks.

But they are among thousands whose background checks have been delayed for months or even years, reports the Houston Chronicle. As a result, families have been separated for extended periods and accepted applicants have not been able to start new jobs.

Joseph Vadas, a physician from Hungary who has been practicing medicine in Houston since 1978, and Haytham Alkhaldi, a Lebanese immigrant who formerly served in the Army National Guard, also are among the plaintiffs in civil litigation filed against against the federal government seeking to speed up the background checks, the Chronicle reports. Both have been waiting years to become citizens.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data, more than 329,000 Federal Bureau of Investigation name check cases are pending, the article says. Of these, more than 15 percent have been in the system for more than two years.

In addition to inconveniencing immigrants, delayed background checks could pose a security risk, says Shariq Abdul Ghani, who directs the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Houston.

"I want to protect borders and ensure the safety of this country just like everyone else," Ghani tells the Chronicle. "But isn't it logical to have these background checks sped up, so you know if this guy's a terrorist, you can get rid of him quickly or detain him and put him in prison? In our opinion, these lengthy background checks only hurt national security."

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