Scores of Muslim migrants have filed suit against the United States in recent years, including 13 active cases, for allegedly showing “bias” against their applications for citizenship or green-card status.
Typically the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations can be found backing these cases.
But a new study released Monday by the Washington-based think-tank Center for Immigration Studies shows not only is there no bias against Muslim immigrants but that the rate of growth of this segment has outpaced that of non-Muslim immigration.
Vice.com recently posted an article in which some Muslims seeking naturalization allege that officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS are exhibiting bias by holding back on approvals.
Highlighted in the article was the case of Mohammad al Muttan, who has apparently experienced delays that he attributes to this bias, notes Dan Cadman, author of the CIS study.
Al Muttan’s case is one of more than a dozen that have now been filed alleging discrimination based on a security protocol underlying the vetting of applications through the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program or CARRP and the Fraud Detection and National Security Unit or FDNSU.
Cadman explains the dilemma for officials at USCIS:
“Give away benefits willy nilly and national security suffers. We’ve seen evidence of this again and again in the multiple arrests of aliens and naturalized citizens for terrorism- and espionage-related offenses in recent years. The Tsarnaev brothers and Tashfeen Malik, of Boston and San Bernardino infamy, are only two examples of flawed or indifferent vetting and approvals. On the other hand, hold benefits back in an attempt to stem the tide in the least little bit, and someone is inevitably filing suit alleging bias or abuse of discretion.”
The exponential growth in the number of mosques popping up across the U.S. also provides anecdotal evidence of a surge in Islamic immigration. On Sept. 11, 2001, there were just over 200 mosques in the U.S., and now there are upwards of 3,000, with at least one in every state and a new one opening every week.
So Cadman decided to do his own study, in which he lays out his methodology in detail, showing that he took an extremely conservative, cautious approach in his analysis of which countries are sending Muslims to the U.S. and which are not.
For instance, there are many countries with substantial Muslim populations that Cadman struck from his dataset. To name just a few:
• Benin (24.4 percent Muslim)
• Nigeria (50 percent Muslim, but not 51 percent, and therefore excluded from the table)
• Eritrea (33 to 50 percent Muslim)
• Ethiopia (33.9 percent Muslim)
• Macedonia (33.3 percent Muslim)
• India (14 percent Muslim)
• Israel (17 percent Muslim)
India alone has a massive Muslim population of 175 million and this country was eliminated from his study.
“It’s beyond dispute that many Indian Muslims have migrated to the United States and become citizens,” Cadman writes. “The same is true of the Philippines (14 percent Muslim, with an overall population exceeding 102 million). Thus, if even a modest portion of Indian or Filipino Muslims migrated to the United States, they undoubtedly exceeded the entire population of some of the majority-Muslim nations that were used in my estimations, such as Bahrain, Djibouti, and Oman, to name just three.
“But all of this data was stricken in the interest of being cautious in estimation.”
Yet even with this elimination of significant Muslim populations, when he tallied the final set of figures, which almost certainly under counts the number of Muslims naturalized in the last 10 years, and compare it to the master dataset from DHS that encompasses all countries and all naturalizations, he found there has been a significant rise in both numbers, from 68,126 in 2005 up to 85,977 in 2014.
Likewise, the percentages of naturalizations by foreign nationals from majority Muslim countries, from 11.3 percent of the all-countries in 2005, increased to 13.2 percent in 2014.
(See Table 1 below).
When considering the figures in Table 1, the context of the time frame is of great import. USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security didn’t even come into being until 2003, a year after passage of the Homeland Security Act. When USCIS was formed, it had no fraud detection unit (FDNSU) up and running, and there was no CARRP system. The unit was created and evolved over time; protocols for vetting had to be conceptualized and promulgated; and the automated system had to be developed from scratch, tested, refined, and implemented.
For these reasons, one might expect that if there were institutionalized discrimination against Muslims, then the numbers and percentages of Muslim naturalizations would have gone down between 2005 and 2014, the years after the FDNSU screening system was established and reached maturity, after operating procedures were standardized and after electronic vetting systems became fully operational.
Yet this is clearly not the case, Cadman says, as is evident by the rising numbers and percentages, which would undoubtedly be significantly higher if one were able to quantify with any precision the naturalization of Muslims from countries whose Muslim populations are substantial, but less than a majority.
It is also worth examining the numbers and percentages of aliens from majority-Muslim countries who obtained legal permanent resident status, also called green cards, in the same period of time. Those, too, might be expected to show a decline, if bias were being exercised, given that FDNSU and CARRP play substantially the same role in the process used to vet aliens before they are approved for lawful resident status.
Once again, Cadman found no decrease either in the number of foreign nationals from majority-Muslim countries who obtained legal resident status in the years between 2005 and 2014, or in the percentage of the persons obtaining residency, when compared with the overall population of aliens given resident status.
To the contrary, as with the naturalized citizen applications examined for that same 10-year period, there has been significant growth in both numbers (from 122,568 in 2005 up to 148,714 in 2014) and percentages (from 10.92 percent in 2005, up to 14.63 percent in 2014) of aliens from majority-Muslim countries receiving lawful resident status in the United States. Although grants of legal residency and naturalization are different things, the similarity in the rates again argues against any bias in granting citizenship to Muslims.
A few other facts relevant to the inquiry:
- An additional examination of the statistics for majority-Muslim countries from 2000 to 2004 when collated with data from the prior tables, shows that in the 15 years between 2000 through 2014, yearly naturalization of persons from those countries increased substantially, from 73,391 in 2000 to 85,977 in 2014.
- Similarly, an examination of the resident alien statistics for majority-Muslim countries for 2000 through 2009 shows that, when collated with the prior statistical data, for the 15 years between 2000 and 2014, obtainment of permanent residence by persons from Muslim-majority countries increased exponentially, from 82,040 in 2000 to 148,714 in 2014.11
By comparison with these percentages, the Pew Research Center estimates that Muslims make up only 1 percent of the population of the United States, although Pew calculates that this will double by 2050. The figures derived from DHS statistics would certainly appear to substantiate that estimation.
Cadman concludes that if there is either a systemic bias against Muslim applicants for either naturalization, as alleged in the lawsuit, or for lawful resident alien status, the statistics don’t show it. Rather, they show a robust and sustained increase in both residency and naturalization of aliens from majority-Muslim nations.