Archive for February, 2008

Former FAA Inspector: TSA’s Enforcement of Post-9/11 Laws ‘Basically Nonexistent’

ABC News

Thousands of foreign student pilots have been able to enroll and obtain pilot licenses from U.S. flight schools, despite tough laws passed in the wake of the 9/ll attacks, according to internal government documents obtained by ABC News.

“Some of the very same conditions that allowed the 9-11 tragedy to happen in the first place are still very much in existence today,” wrote one regional security official to his boss at the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration.

“Thousands of aliens, some of whom may very well pose a threat to this country, are taking flight lessons, being granted FAA certifications and are flying planes,” wrote the TSA official, Richard A. Horn, in 2005, complaining that the students did not have the proper visas.

Under the new laws, American flight schools are only supposed to provide pilot training to foreign students who have been given a background check by the TSA and have a specific type of visa.

But in thousands of cases that has not happened, according to the documents and current and former government officials involved in the program.

“TSA’s enforcement is basically nonexistent,” said former FAA inspector Bill McNease, in an interview for ABC News’ “World News With Charles Gibson.”

McNease, who retired last year, says in one year alone, 2005, he found some 8,000 foreign students in the FAA database who got their pilot licenses without ever being approved by the TSA.

“And a flight school wants the money to teach ‘em. And they are gonna teach ‘em how to fly and get their ratings, and then they just slip through the cracks,” McNease said.

In another internal e-mail obtained by ABC News, Monty Thompson, an official in the TSA Flight School Inspections section, complained in 2005 to his bosses in Washington, “I fear we are ‘danger close’ to losing sight of the mission and the intent of the ‘Flight School Security’ provisions.”

The new laws were passed after it was learned that all of the 9/ll hijackers, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, who were involved in flight operations had trained at U.S. flight schools with improper visas.

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They wanted to give 200 million to La Raza and ACORN because they are supposed to be experts in the field of foreclosure?

Front Page Mag

The Democrats reacted in anger when Senate Republicans blocked their latest economic stimulus bill. Harry Reid said that bankers and lenders were high-fiving each other in hallways after the GOP torpedoed the bill, but perhaps a better explanation of Reid’s disappointment comes from Bob Casey (D-PA). The beneficiaries of the bill turns out to be somewhat different than advertised:

Mr. CASEY: ?We want to do a couple of things with this legislation, which we know is the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. Our Majority Leader, Senator Reid, and our leadership and the members of the Democratic Caucus set it out fairly specifically. A couple of basic things this legislation would have done: first of all, it would have continued what we started in the end of last year, foreclosure prevention counseling dollars, to give money to organizations around the country that are certifiably expert at this, organizations like La Raza. I know the presiding officer knows that group. We know also the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, known by the acronym ?ACORN.? They?re headquartered in Philadelphia. These are organizations which understand what a lender has to deal with but more importantly deal with borrowers when they?re borrowing money, when they?re dealing with the difficulty and complexity of borrowing money. These organizations would have helped even more so than they?re helping now with $200 million more of counseling money. That?s not going to happen right now because of what the other side did; they blocked that money by blocking this legislation.?

ACORN? Would this be the same ACORN that conducted voter fraud in Washington, resulting in felony charges against its officers there in 2007? Isn’t this the same organization that generated complaints and questions about their practices in several other jurisdictions during the 2006 election? How does shoving money into the pockets of ACORN provide an economic stimulus?

This doesn’t look like a stimulus package. It looks more like an investment in further voter fraud.

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He plans to continue the NAU summit meetings with greater transparency. Maybe we’re so far along already that he feels it time to let the cat out of the bag.

Dallas News
Barack Obama: I will repair our relationship with Mexico

Under George W. Bush, the United States has not lived up to its historic role as a leader in the Western Hemisphere. As president, I will restore that leadership by working to advance the common prosperity and security of all of the people of the Americas. That work must begin with a renewed strategic partnership with Mexico.

Mr. Bush took office vowing to make the Americas a top priority. But over the last seven years, the administration’s approach to this issue has been clumsy, disinterested and, above all, distracted by the war in Iraq. Indeed, relations have not fully recovered since Mexico refused to fall in line with President Bush’s rush to war.

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon just traveled across the United States but didn’t even go to Washington, which isn’t that surprising given how little Mr. Bush has done to improve relations.

Starting my first year in office, I will convene annual meetings with Mr. Calderon and the prime minister of Canada. Unlike similar summits under President Bush, these will be conducted with a level of transparency that represents the close ties among our three countries. We will seek the active and open involvement of citizens, labor, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in setting the agenda and making progress.

With our neighbors to the south, that agenda must include securing our border. The hard work of comprehensive immigration reform must be done at home; we will be a nation of laws and immigrants. But we also have to work with Mexico to crack down on both illegal immigration and transnational criminal organizations that threaten people on both sides of the border.

This will take new investments and new partnerships. Here’s some of what we need to do:

? Increase technology and real-time intelligence-sharing to allow U.S. and Mexican authorities to track and dismantle drug-trafficking cartels.

? Invest in anti-drug education on both sides of the border to reduce demand for illicit narcotics.

? Make a concerted effort to disrupt arms smuggling and money laundering from the United States that supplies Mexican drug cartels with weapons and funds.

? Partner with Mexico to enhance the professionalism of its law enforcement and judiciary officials.

It’s also time to develop a bilateral strategy for lifting up our border communities. Six and a half million Americans live in cities and towns next to the border, and 61 million Americans live in the four states that border Mexico. Too often we neglect the unique needs of these communities, which are integrated with their sister cities across the border. As president, I will work with state and local governments to enhance cross-border partnerships in transportation, law enforcement, environmental protection, health care and water usage.

At a national level, our diplomacy with Mexico must aim to amend NAFTA. I will seek enforceable labor and environment standards ? not unenforceable side agreements that have done little to curb NAFTA’s failures. To reduce illegal immigration, we also have to help Mexico develop its own economy, so that more Mexicans can live their dreams south of the border. That’s why I’ll increase foreign assistance, including expanded micro-financing for businesses in Mexico.

Finally, we have to recognize the connection between our rhetoric and our relations ? both with Mexico and within our own borders. We can and should have a robust debate about immigration reform, but we should never demonize or scapegoat any ethnic group. Already, we have seen an unacceptable spike in hate crimes aimed at Latinos across America. This has proven divisive here at home, and it risks poisoning our relations with Latin America.

Our relationship with Mexico should serve as a bridge to greater security and prosperity in North America and to better relations with Latin America. But we cannot achieve this partnership unless we engage in sustained and focused diplomacy, and develop a more effective working relationship with our neighbor to the south.

Sen. Barack Obama may be contacted through barackobama.com. Viewpoints has invited Sen. Hillary Clinton to submit an essay on this topic as well.

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“It is the time of the Latino, your time to step up, your time to take this country over,” Lopez said, eliciting applause. “But si se puede doesn’t mean anything unless you go out and make it happen.”


El Paso Times

Hollywood television celebrity and popular comedian George Lopez brought U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s message of hope and change Wednesday afternoon to an estimated 1,200 potential young voters at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Lopez spent 22 minutes on stage spinning familiar comedy lines and urging students to vote early and then vote again in precinct caucuses after the polls close on election day. He later fielded questions backstage.

“I’ve seen in Senator Obama somebody who really cares about people. It’s nice to feel like you’re important to the fabric of America,” Lopez said. “Latinos cannot be under fire every day and when it comes time to make a difference, you don’t vote.”

Read more.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center will no doubt do a cover story on this one.

Statesman

GRAND PRAIRIE ? An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent killed himself after an armed standoff with a police officer and three colleagues, Grand Prairie police said Wednesday.

Police discovered a suitcase full of pornography, a flag with a swastika and more than a half-dozen weapons after finding Mark Juvette dead early Wednesday.

Juvette, 40, worked for the agency’s Dallas Office of Detention and Removal.

Agency officials did not comment.

A police officer was sent to Juvette’s apartment Tuesday night after co-workers expressed concern for his welfare. The officer and three immigration agents couldn’t get in the apartment, and Juvette began shooting at them through the door.

Officers found Juvette dead with a gunshot wound to the head early Wednesday. The Tarrant County medical examiner ruled his death a suicide.

Officers processing the scene said they found a large canvas suitcase full of pornographic magazines in the bedroom and a red flag with a black swastika hung in a closet with a few older-style military jackets.

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NY Times

Tucson — In a patch of desert just north of Mexico, what began as a relatively routine interception a year ago ended when a Border Patrol agent shot and killed an illegal immigrant at close range.

Whether the agent?s action was murder or self-defense is being resolved at a trial that began this week in the heated atmosphere over illegal immigration.

The agent, Nicholas W. Corbett, 40, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide for a shooting that prosecutors say was unprovoked as the immigrant, Francisco Javiér Domínguez, 22, was surrendering.

The prosecutor, Grant Woods, a former state attorney general, said Wednesday at the trial that Agent Corbett had lied to supervisors about what occurred. Scientific evidence, Mr. Woods said, overwhelmingly supported the accounts of Mr. Domínguez?s companions, all relatives.

?We all respect the Border Patrol and law enforcement, but you don?t kill somebody who is trying to surrender,? he told the jury.

Agent Corbett?s lawyer, Sean Chapman, said the agent, who has been assigned to administrative work, opened fire after Mr. Domínguez, angry and frustrated at the prospect of being arrested, had threatened to ?crush his skull? with a stone.

The accounts by his companions are unreliable, Mr. Chapman said, because they were ?corrupted and influenced? by Mexican consular officials who met them afterward. The Cochise County Sheriff?s Department, he added, ?did a horrible investigation.?

Read more.

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Last year, on a small sector of thoroughfare near Nogales, Border Patrol caught nearly 400 offenders trying to sneak across in this one area alone.

KPHO

PHOENIX — Illegal immigrant sex offenders sneaking across the Mexican border into Arizona revealed a problem with the way criminals are being deported, a CBS 5 investigation uncovered.

When an illegal immigrant commits a crime in Arizona he or she is sent to jail or prison and then deported back to Mexico. However, 5 Investigates uncovered that instead of dropping the offenders deep into Mexico; they are being dropped off right at the border.

5 Investigates videotaped an Immigration and Customs Enforcement van carrying two illegal immigrants, who just finished serving prison, to the border.

Upon arriving at the border, the offenders stepped out, were handed their belongings and set free.

Investigates interviewed the men on what they planned to do next; one man said he planned to turn around and attempt to go back to California where his family lives.

Federal officials, such as Katrina Kane from ICE, said they face difficulties as their ways of deportation are limited.

“It’s not the only way that we’re deporting them. It’s one of the ways we are deporting, you know, individuals to Mexico,” said Kane.

Others disagree and believe there are better ways to ensure people charged with sex crimes do not re-enter society.

Scott Berkowitz of RAINN, an organization that lobbies Congress of behalf of rape victims, said he believes prison may be the best way to deal with those charges with sex crimes.

“The best thing we can do is keep them in prison for a much longer time,” Berkowitz said.

Border Patrol agents report seeing illegal immigrants every night attempting to cross the border, many of them sex offenders.

Last year, on a small sector of thoroughfare near Nogales, Border Patrol caught nearly 400 offenders trying to sneak across in this one area alone.

Border Patrol Agent Mike Scioli revealed to 5 Investigates just how frequent these convicts enter back into the country.

“Within just the last week, we caught three major sex offenders and it was anything from lewd acts with a minor to child molestation; I believe one was a rape victim or sexual assault,” Scioli said.

Agents said they identified sex offenders from North Carolina, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa and California that were deported to Mexico and then turned around and re-entered the U.S. at the Arizona border.

Police said the Chandler rapist was one of these offenders.

The Chandler rapist is an illegal immigrant who was deported twice from California to Mexico.

Sex offenders and other ex-cons caught re-entering the U.S. face new prison terms up to 20 years.

However, the convicts 5 Investigates interviewed said the consequences of getting caught will not stop them from attempting to re-enter the U.S.

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Tennessean

A man charged in the death of a Tennessee State University student pleaded guilty today to a charge of vehicular homicide by intoxication.

Victor Benitez, 24, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was sentenced in Davidson County Criminal Court to nine years in prison. Benitez was driving in south Nashville in June 2007 when his car collided with that of Joycelyn Gardiner, 22, a member of the Tigerbelles track team who was scheduled to graduate that summer.

Gardiner was taken from the scene to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Benitez was speeding and had a strong odor of alcohol, according to police. He had a previous arrest for public intoxication and resisting arrest.

A federal hold has been placed on Benitez for violation of immigration laws.

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News With Views

Each year the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and similar federal laws funnel $1 billion to help abused and battered women ? or so we are led to believe. A good part of that money goes to immigrants who claim to be victims of domestic violence.

Last Fall I wrote a three-part exposé that revealed how an immigrant woman?s restraining order becomes a ?gold-plated meal ticket that entitles her to preferential treatment by immigration authorities, free legal services, and a generous helping of welfare services.?

One woman whose father had been falsely accused of abuse and forced from his home wrote me, ?I believe the Violence Against Women Act should be called the ?Women Get What They Want Act.??

Following those columns I received an unending stream of horror stories from persons falsely accused of domestic violence. One came from Sean Moffett of St. Paul, Minn. whose wife is from Guatemala. Soon after the wedding he discovered to his dismay that her real aim was different from what she had pledged in her wedding vows.

This is his story: Read more.

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Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft ? And How To Fight Back
American Chronicle
February 28, 2008

Identity theft is a federal crime that ruthlessly affects more than nine million people each year in the United States alone. For families struggling to make ends meet or provide their future, it amounts to no less than a ransacking of their financial security. And the ease with which even the most personal information can be illegally obtained is often chilling.

Loosely defined as the illegal use of someone else´s personal and financial information for personal gain, identity theft amounts to 42 percent of the complaints received by the US Federal Trade Commission ? their single biggest source of complaints. Identity thieves use stolen information for an entire spectrum of crimes, ranging from illegal immigration to wide-scale fraud and even terrorism. Yet despite its myriad dangers, for victims and potential victims alike, there´s hope………..

How to protect against identity theft

Protecting personal and family information involves constant vigilance and a certain amount of online and electronic savvy in releasing information.

Because millions of consumers are especially vulnerable while shopping online, experts recommend installing both a firewall and reputable anti-virus protection that regularly updates, to protect against the latest phishing and hacking schemes. The Identity Theft Resource Center likens remaining online without these safeguards to leaving your home unlocked with a “Welcome Thieves” banner hung across its front.

When shopping online, consumers should use only Web sites that offer multiple encryption and protection features. Microsoft cautions online shoppers to use secure servers that feature a padlock icon on the browser´s lower right side and/or the “https” prefix in its address.

The FTC outlines its consumer defense strategy in a pamphlet called “Deter, Detect, Defend.” They recommend that consumers remain vigilant regarding the arrival of their bills and to watch for inconsistencies in credit card statements or financial histories.

All credit card statements, as well as free credit card offers, should be shredded before getting thrown out. Social security cards and extra credit cards should not be carried in the wallet or purse. All personal information should likewise be stored in a hidden, secure location within the home. Personal information, including credit card numbers, should never be given over the phone. Mail should be retrieved as soon as possible from its box.

Consumers should also annually check their credit reports. Under federal law, the three major credit reporting companies ? Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion ? must furnish one credit report each year to consumers who request them. Inconsistencies on the credit report will often point to instances of credit card theft or misuse. Consumers can request a report by writing to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

A free copy of the FTC´s “Deter, Detect, Defend” brochure is available online.

What to do if you think you´re a victim

The Better Business Bureau reports that one of the leading misconceptions regarding identity theft is the public´s sense of helplessness. In truth, consumers detect just 47% - less than half ? of identity theft and fraud themselves. The rest learn their identities were stolen by collection agencies, credit card companies, and even the police.

The FTC suggests that consumers who believe they may be a victim of identity theft should first contact one of the three credit bureaus and request a fraud alert be placed on their credit records. The alert is good for 90 days. Upon receiving a credit report, consumers should carefully review and audit their records to search for fraudulent expenses. Any accounts that have been tampered with or that are suspected of tampering should be closed immediately.

Consumers should then file a complaint with the FTC, either at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). The FTC will have them fill out an ID Theft Affidavit as a means of quickly reporting the identity theft to many different credit organizations.

Consumers should also file an Identity Theft Report with their local police, which can block fraudulent information from appearing on updated credit reports. They can also block agencies from attempting to collect debts resulting from the identity theft. Finally, the Identity Theft Report is necessary to place an extended fraud alert on credit reports. The report must contain specific information about the identity theft. Consumers should bring copies of the FTC´s Identity Theft Complaint and ID Theft Affidavit to the police office when filling out the report.

The Department of Justice recommends contacting the following federal agencies as well:

For mail tampering or theft, fill out and return the Postal Inspection Service´s fraud reporting form.

The Internal Revue Service is available at 1-800-829-1040 for help with information related to identity theft and tax records;

The Social Security Administration has an online form available to help consumers whose Social Security card or number has been stolen or used in fraudulent activities.

Finally, victims can also contact the Identity Theft Resource Center or by calling its Victim Assistance Center at (858) 693-7935. The ITRC will offer a variety of assistance and strategies for dealing with the theft and its fallout.

To read entire article click here.

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Israel Trejo

TBO

TAMPA ? An illegal immigrant wanted on more than 80 counts of rape on children in North Carolina was captured tonight in Haines City, the U.S. Marshals Service announced.

At about 7 p.m., agents with the U.S. Marshals’ Tampa Bay Area Futigive Task Force and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office found and arrested Israel Trejo, 30, on Hinson Avenue East, according to a news release.

No further details were available.

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Obama’s talk of pulling out of Iraq is empty campaign rhetoric as well.

CTV

Barack Obama has ratcheted up his attacks on NAFTA, but a senior member of his campaign team told a Canadian official not to take his criticisms seriously, CTV News has learned.

Both Obama and Hillary Clinton have been critical of the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement over the course of the Democratic primaries, saying that the deal has cost U.S. workers’ jobs.

CTV on Obama, Clinton and NAFTA

Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama’s campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources.

The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.

But Tuesday night in Ohio, where NAFTA is blamed for massive job losses, Obama said he would tell Canada and Mexico “that we will opt out unless we renegotiate the core labour and environmental standards.”

Late Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign said the staff member’s warning to Wilson sounded implausible, but did not deny that contact had been made.

Read more.

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Hopefully Minnesota will be the next state to crack down on the invaders.

KFSY

We learned today the woman charged with causing last week’s deadly school bus crash near Cottonwood may have been pulled over one month ago. Now Minnesota Congresswoman
Bachmann wants U.S. Immigration officials to explain how suspected illegal immigrant “Olga Franco” fell through the cracks of the nation’s immigration laws. It appears Olga Franco, under the alias “Alianiss Morales,” was stopped by police before two years before. And again only one month before Cottonwood’s tragic bus accident.

“We have to find out where the system broke down between local law enforcement and the federal government and make sure this never happens again,” said Congresswoman Michelle Bachman.

Minnesota Public Radio reports Franco’s boyfriend was pulled over on the same highway, in the same van involved in the fatal bus crash. Samuel Melendez, didn’t have a license. Franco reportedly told the officer she had no state ID card or driver’s license. But nothing more was done. An event Congresswoman Bachmann says can’t happen again.

“From every level, whether it’s the local, the state, or the federal, we all have to work together as a team because unfortunately, what we saw was the lives of innocent Americans and now innocent children have been paid because of this neglegence,” stated Bachmann.

Read more.

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Norwalk Advocate

STAMFORD - A 16-year-old city boy will spend five years in prison for sexually assaulting a 3-year-old boy last year.

Axel Escalante, formerly of 135-7 Stillwater Ave., could have received far more prison time if not for a request from the victim’s family for a lesser sentence, attorneys said.

Escalante, an immigrant from Guatemala and the youngest of 10 brothers, pleaded guilty to risk of injury to a minor in exchange for a maximum five-year prison term, attorneys said.

The victim’s family signed off on the deal in part because they did not want the boy to testify about the assault, said the prosecutor, Assistant State’s Attorney Maureen Ornousky.

The victim has had nightmares, and his family is “concerned over how this will affect his development,” Ornousky said.

The state also considered Escalante’s age and the wish of the victim’s family that he receive counseling instead of a lengthy prison stay, Ornousky said.

Escalante was at the victim’s home May 7 when he assaulted the boy. Doctors found evidence of sexual penetration, Ornousky said.

Escalante’s family was friendly with the victim’s family, and it was not unusual for Escalante to visit their home, attorneys said.

Police charged Escalante with first-degree sexual assault. The physical evidence gave prosecutors a strong case against him, Ornousky said.

“If (Escalante) were older, with this kind of evidence, we’d be looking for quite a bit longer of incarceration,” Ornousky said.

Escalante’s public defender, Susan Hankins, asked the judge for a two-year sentence.

Escalante, who has no record and may face deportation, apologized before Judge Richard Comerford.

“I know the boy has been harmed physically and mentally,” he said through a Spanish-language interpreter. “I don’t have anything else to say.”

Escalante’s father, Concepcion, asked for mercy and said none of Escalante’s nine brothers had ever been in trouble.

“This is my last son, and I have to accept what he did,” Concepcion Escalante said. “I ask forgiveness for what he has done.”

Comerford was not swayed.

“You can’t have this kind of behavior in civilized society,” the judge said before imposing the five-year sentence. “I don’t care how old he is.”

About a dozen of Escalante’s family and friends declined to comment after the hearing at state Superior Court in Stamford. The victim’s family also declined to comment.

Escalante will be on probation for 15 years after his release. He must register as a sex offender during his probation, the judge ruled.

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CBS11

DALLAS (CBS 11 News) ? Three North Texas residents accuse the federal government of violating immigration laws.

The men are from the Middle East and are now suing, claiming their applications for naturalization have been delayed for years.

Aymen Alasad, a native of Jordan who now lives in Arlington, accuses the federal government of failing to timely process his application to become a permanent resident alien.

“Doesn’t make sense to me. It will take a year, two… after September 11, I can understand,” said Alasad. “But it’s been seven years.”

He’s now suing the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees naturalization and other federal agencies.

Alasad is not alone. Hicham Salloum and Hasan Hajmohammad are also suing the government.

Salloum, a native of Lebanon now living in Las Colinas, said he’s been waiting for permanent residency status for four years. But he said the Federal Aviation Administration cleared him to work with import/export firms at DFW Airport.

“If they say you’re clear, then you’re good to go on the airplanes,” said Salloum. “I haven’t done anything wrong. So that means I don’t have anything in my record, so why won’t they clear my name?”

Hajmohammad, a native of Jordan living in Irving, has also waited four years to become a citizen. He claims the U.S. is unfairly making the process difficult for Muslims.

Read more.

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