Samira Afzali


This article discusses the failure of the current immigration reform debate in addressing immigration policies that affect highly unpopular ethnic communities including Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, Somalis and Iranians. The current debate on immigration reform was heavily shaped and influenced by the 2012 presidential elections and both parties’ attempts to win the Hispanic vote. For this reason, the current discourse on immigration reform has focused on one segment of the population, albeit a diverse segment.

Since the Clinton Administration, Congress has passed legislation that converged national security interests with immigration law. The current debate on immigration reform fails to address reform that would overhaul or wind down “programs” that directly affect immigration benefits for Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, Somalis and Iranians. This article discusses the programs that were created after the September 11th attack in order to deny immigration benefits for arriving immigrants from “Muslim” countries. In 2013, the ACLU of Southern California announced that it had discovered through litigation that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had created a program known as the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program “CARRP” that essentially delays immigration application for Muslim immigrants for years and most often leads to denials. In addition, in response to the September 11th attacks, USCIS implemented an office known as the Fraud Detection and National Security office that closely scrutinizes immigration applications of immigrants from certain countries. Lastly, the article proposes recommendations for enhancing the comprehensive immigration reform bill to address issues that affect these unpopular immigrant communities.