The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been ordered by a US federal court in Colorado to process the green card application of an Iraqi artist. Government prosecutors claim that Sami Alkarim, an Iraqi refugee, is under investigation for possible terrorist ties. Officials refused to grant his green card application because he worked as a messenger for a political party during his teen years. The government had previously given no indication when, or if, his application would be adjudicated.

Alkarim came to the US as a refugee in early 2001, even before 9/11. He was imprisoned by Saddam because his abstract paintings were considered to be subversive. Even though he lives in the US and his family have gotten citizenship, he can’t work or travel. He has had to turn down opportunities to show his art in Europe.

The ruling will likely enable other immigration attorneys to file for green card applicants who have similar claims. There are currently 7,000 refugees who have been unable to settle their legal status because US immigration officials have deemed them terrorists, even though many have helped the US in Afghanistan or were tortured by Saddam, like Alkarim.

Immigration Attorney fears retribution and green card denial

The Obama administration’s interpretation of the USA Patriot Act allows refugees and asylum applicants to be barred from living in the US if they supported or were members of armed groups. DHS must rule on Alkarim’s green card application within the next 30 days. Alkarim’s immigration attorney fears that, because of the ruling, DHS will now deny his green card or even revoke his refugee status.

As indicated by the 7,000 people currently in limbo over findings of possible terrorist connections, how to handle applications for people from the middle east has not been resolved. Congress has authorized DHS to grant waivers in certain cases; government officials claim that twelve thousand waivers have already been granted.