Now, can you imagine, a decorated war hero having to wait in limbo for citizenship?

The case is the latest in a string of lawsuits fighting prolonged, system-wide naturalization delays that are the result of lags in FBI background checks known as “name checks,” which USCIS’s own ombudsman has criticized as leading to rampant delays without any clear security benefit. Because of the delays, hundreds of thousands of citizenship applications have been held up well past the 120-day window established by Congress and the immigration agency itself for processing the applications.

“Our government has failed in its obligation to give a timely decision to long-time lawful permanent residents who have followed all the rules and want to pledge their allegiance to the United States,” said Cecillia Wang, managing attorney for the San Francisco office of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It is particularly outrageous that Julian Polous Al Matchy, who voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army and received a Purple Heart after being wounded in battle in Iraq, is among the countless immigrants who have been left in limbo in violation of the law.”

Specialist Polous is a permanent lawful resident of the United States, currently stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas. He is a native and citizen of Iraq. He immigrated to the U.S. in May 2001 and quickly applied for political asylum, which was granted in 2002. In 2005, he became a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Polous joined the U.S. Army in March 2006 and served, among other duties, as a translator. He was deployed along with his unit to his native country of Iraq. In October 2007, he was seriously wounded when a suicide bomber detonated himself 10 feet from Polous and his fellow soldiers. After partially recovering from his wounds, he agreed to another stint in Iraq until December 2007. For his service, he was awarded the Purple Heart, two Army Commendation medals, a Combat Action badge, Gold Combat Spurs and many certificates and letters of appreciation. He continues to receive medical treatment for his wounds sustained in Iraq.

In April 2007, having met all requirements to be come a citizen of the U.S., Polous applied for naturalization. He was interviewed by the USCIS on January 18, 2008. Despite the passage of six months since his naturalization interview and numerous inquiries by Polous and his commanding officers, USCIS has failed to render a decision on his application for citizenship. USCIS has told Polous that he has not yet passed the FBI background check, despite his combat service in the U.S. Army.

“I was proud to serve America as a soldier in the U.S. Army,” said Polous. “I love this country and very much want to become a citizen. I hope that this lawsuit helps me and other immigrants realize that dream.”

The FBI has always conducted background checks of people applying for U.S. citizenship. However, in 2002, the USCIS began requiring an expanded FBI name check, which checks applicants’ names against a drastically over-inclusive FBI database that includes the names of innocent people like witnesses, crime victims or persons who have applied for government security clearances. When an applicant’s name is similar to a name in the FBI database, the FBI often will let the name check process stall for months or years because further investigation requires a manual review of paper files that may be scattered across the country. USCIS implemented this policy change without giving the public notice and an opportunity to comment, as required by law.

“The government is required to make a decision within 120 days of interviewing any applicant for naturalization. Spc. Polous is not unique in having to endure such an unlawful delay,” said Jonathan Willmoth, an attorney of McCrummen Immigration Law Group, LLC and lead attorney for Polous. “Julian Polous has sacrificed greatly for this country, and it is wrong to deny him citizenship when he has met all the necessary requirements contained in statute or regulation.”

Polous’ commanding officer, Col. David Sutherland, wrote a letter of recommendation in November 2007, referring to Polous’ “flawless performance,” his “willingness to sacrifice greatly” and his “demonstrated record of success.”

69 thoughts on “Seriously? A decorated war hero has to resort to suing the government to gain citizenship?

  1. Censored bybvbl,

    The Republican way is only reserved for those people who sound and act like Republicans. Didn’t you know that?

  2. Moon-howler

    Censored and Rick,

    I think Censored brings up a valid point. Could this problem been attacked without having to have a boogy man? Rick, I have never said I don’t have sympathy for your neighborhood plight. I just happen to think it doesn’t matter about the ethnicity of the people being a pains in the tail. When I ‘walked a mile in your moccassins’ it had nothing to do with Latinos.

  3. Lucky Duck

    Mackie, I am surprised you’re not embarrassed to post after your were called out…
    Still haven’t answered the questions….now have you?

    Where’s the youtube you usually hide behind?

  4. Lucky Duck

    Moon-Howler, I agree with you and Censored that the problems could have been addressed through neighborhood services and action by other county agencies (zoning, police etc.).

    But in my opinion, the County is at fault in this failure. It is only in the last few years that Zoning and Neighborhood Services have finally started putting teeth behind its actions. These neighborhood problems have been festering since the early to mid 90’s and the County did literally nothing until the last couple of years. If they had recognized the neighborhood issues and got ahead of the curve with information on how to contact the County for assistance and addressed the expectations of county residents, this may have allievated the need for the resolution.

    Zoning was not that easy to deal with ten or fifteen years ago and neighborhood services didn’t exist.

  5. Censored bybvbl

    Lucky Duck, I agree with what you said about Neighborhood Services and Zoning. For more than twenty-five years I’ve lived in a neighborhood that has experienced many zoning, police, building code issues…almost exclusively involving white residents. The PD has actually been the most reliable at solving problems (involving vehicles). Years ago I found Zoning to be good as well, and then it seemed to go through a slump where it was inefficient at addressing problems. Now, probably because of the resolution brouhaha, it seems to be tackling some of the issues again. I’ve only recently dealt with Neighborhood Services so I’ll have to see what type of impact they have.

    I was merely curious about why residents of some of the impacted areas didn’t organize a large group to attend a BOCS meeting and register their complaints. They could have taken their pictures of violations with them, notified the press, and challenged Supervisors to tour their neighborhoods. Instead they’ve appeared to play the “illegal alien” card instead.

  6. Elena

    Lucky Duck,
    Your solution is sane, reasonable, well thought out, and would have required substantially less money then the resolution. The resolution was a political goal not a an exercise in proper government solutions to address community issues.

  7. Lucky Duck

    Censored, perhaps people did not respond as a group to the BOCS about the neighborhood issues because they were in fact, their neighbors they were talking about. Its a lot easier to get a “mob mentality” to fight issues about “someone else” than to point the finger at a specific neighbor. With the resolution, people may feel insulated from being the ones calling on their neighbors because in their opinions, now its the resolution taking care of the problems.

    Hi Elena, I hope your vacation was nice. You’re right, the resolution was a political goal that used the pent up anger and distress over neighborhood problems that should have been addressed by the County government over the last eighteen years.

  8. Censored bybvbl

    Lucky Duck, I’m laughing about neighborhood “dust-ups”. Whereas most neighborhoods probably try to avoid them, ours seems to relish them and we’ve had some doozies.

  9. Juturna

    Look at this history of the Gainesville Supervisors….. Have discussed this ad nauseum with Chris.

    On the other hand look at the history of Dale City – even with a liberal Democrat. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than Gainesville.

  10. Lucky Ducky,

    Mackie, I am surprised you’re not embarrassed to post after your were called out…
    Still haven’t answered the questions….now have you?

    What? No more comparing me to dancing twelve year old girls? Have you finally graduated from elementary school? I use that historical reference because I believe it is the last time in my life I was ever compared to a twelve year old girl.

    But seriously…you may engage in character assassination if it pleases you. It only betrays that you are desperate to smear my name. Why that would be so, I have no idea.

    Why is that so, Lucky Ducky?

  11. Lucky Ducky,

    I respectfully ask that you stop engaging in your personal attacks against me and my character.

    I want you to understand that I will no longer respond to any of your character assassination-laden posts.

    I’d rather debate issues. If I ever want otherwise I’ll just head over to BVBL.

    You win. I lose.

    Now go home.

  12. Michael

    If ANY of you want to understand the real “crisis” in the US caused by “illegal” immigration, I invite you to comment (without animosity and malice) and debate the truth of my posts on the GMU film thread “LA Nadie” It may “in my opinion” be one of the most important discussions between each other you have ever had on this blog.

    I challenge any of you to remain un-biased and thoughtful, in your dissertations to the community.

    I wish AWCheney were here, she could add some excellent documentary comment and “balance” to the discussion, and maybe take it up as a documentary topic on her blog. I love and highly respect her research work.

  13. Elena

    My vacation was very relaxing, thanks for asking Lucky Duck 🙂

    I hope that you and Mackie can resolve this tension between the two of you. At one point, you were very empathetic of Mackie’s personal situation, having relatives who were undocumented. I know that Mackie is clearly very consumed with the negative side of law enforcement, but I don’t think any of us will penetrate that fear Makie holds.

    Mackie,
    You can be extremely thought provoking, and that has been great for debate on the blog, but I sense that people may be feeling uncomfortable with your empahsis on all the negative aspects of law enforcement. I have had one or two VERY negative experiences with police officers in my distant past, but when it comes to PWC, I think that Chief Deane exemplifies every character asset one would hope for in a Police Chief. The experiences many of us have had, during this trying time, has been very positive with PWC Police officers.

  14. Elena,

    I think you misunderstand my perspective. It’s not a fear of law enforcement that I have. As I’ve said many times before, I support law enforcement and I oppose law breakers. But you must understand I use the terms ‘law enforcement’ and ‘law breakers’ in a much broader sense than the conventional use. It is a shame that when average citizens think of law enforcement they don’t automatically think about themselves. Because the ultimate law of the land is our Constitution. And that makes each one of us law enforcers whenever we exercise our rights. And it equally makes people law breakers whenever they seek to violate our rights…especially if they wear badges and violate our rights under what they call ‘the color of the law’.

    The difference is that whether someone is a law breaker or a law enforcer has nothing to do with whether someone wears a badge or has a nice title and a pressed suit.

    We can all be law enforcers like Jimmy Justice. You don’t need a badge. You just need to care about creating justice.

    And we can all be law breakers like State Trooper ‘Buck’ Carter.

    A badge or a title just happens to give us more power to be one or the other.

    The difference is in degree, not in kind.

    And human nature being what it is, I think we can all agree that ‘power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Without accountability, those in power naturally seek to insulate themselves from the negative consequences of their actions. Even if they create that insulation at the expense of our human rights. The Founding Fathers understood this ugly truth about human nature (they counted on it) and probably would find fault with many aspects of the police structure and role nowadays especially the lack of accountability to We the People.

    The less we care about protecting our rights, the more bolder do the law breakers grow.

    ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
    Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
    What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
    Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
    Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;

  15. Red Dawn

    Mackie,

    You do a good job to bring another subject to the table and I BELIEVE you mean no malice or are provoking anarchy. I also know the difference that you are not talking about the situation in PWC . I feel that is where some feel uneasy because of the sensitive situation here. I think you are doing a good thing as far as educating people about OUR rights , “We the people” and how it can be compromised.

    Let’s go back to Miranda rights and the reason for it 🙂 you are just taking it a step further and I believe the ULTIMATE message/bottom line in your comments are do not be blind in faith and in trust 🙂

    peace 🙂

  16. Lucky Duck

    Mackie, I have respected your opinions in the past. You were thought provoking, however, lately you have been throwing up statistics in the last two threads and when asked to support those claims, you NEVER answer the question. You post videos and avoid answering.

    Read Juturna’s posts above…anyone else who did as you did on this blog would also be rightly called out to supply “data” (your term) to support their allegations – you simply avoid the answer and post unconnected videos. Why should you get a pass when others do not? At least two other posters called you out on the same problem (Juturna and Emma) and you again ignored it.

    I support law enforement, you are an ardent supporter of undocumented aliens. For every you tube video you post of negative acts by some of the 500,000 law enforcement officers in America, I can find one of negative acts by some of the 12 million illegal aliens here in America and post that too. My point is (as I have mentioned to you numerous times before) that there are bad people in all parts of life, more good than bad, but some bad none the less.
    But you constantly harp on one topic and use facts in a very lose manner. I don’t think if non-existent facts were presented here about the unlawful acts of illegal aliens that you (or others) would accept it without support, and rightly so. So you should follow the same rules as everyone else.

  17. Lucky Duck,

    Your rhetoric may be showing a bit more restraint but I can see you’re still determined to harass me.
    Why is that?
    Why so obsessed with it?
    Why so serious?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4gebrUWxI8&feature=related

    anyone else who did as you did on this blog would also be rightly called out to supply “data” (your term) to support their allegations – you simply avoid the answer and post unconnected videos. Why should you get a pass when others do not? At least two other posters called you out on the same problem (Juturna and Emma) and you again ignored it.

    The mistake you continue to make here is to assume. And you know what they say about people who assume. Look at your assumptions in the quote above. Remove the assumptions and you’ll find the answer to Juturna’s question.

    You see, I did answer. You just didn’t understand the answer.

  18. Lucky Duck

    No Mackie, you gave a BS answer about there not being only one “data point”.

    You posted the following quote “I have no problem with cops who have the morals to do their job and respect our rights at the same time. Unfortunately that’s about 2percent of the force. Even the so-called good ones aren’t so good when they cover up the crimes of the bad ones”.

    Juturna and I asked where you got your “fact” of the 2 % and you tried to bs your way out of it because you obviously don’t have supporting data. Emma also called you out on it and yet you still hide behind videos and accuse simply because you got caught stating something without any support behind it. You’re no victim here, you are pushing a false story as a fact.

    Nobody is “harassing you” or “obsessed” with you. But like others, support what you say or admit your error and move on. But telling us that there is “only one data point” is a childish attempt to blur your error. I understood exactly what you were attempting to do.

  19. Lucky Duck

    Mackie, just in case you forgot your BS answer, here it is again for you to review. It clearly shows your claim of “2%” has no basis in fact and your senseless explanation below only shows how weak your claim was.

    Mackie, 4. August 2008, 20:41
    Juturna,

    That’s a very good question and I was hoping someone would eventually ask something similar. However, your question is too limited in scope in that it only takes into account 1 data point. It’s all about the data.

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