The ACLU: Vetting Foreign Nationals Is Illegal and Discriminatory

Mehdi Ostadhassan is an Iranian national who entered the U.S. approximately 10 years ago to study petroleum engineering. Upon completing a PhD, he began teaching at the University of North Dakota and applied for a green card.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied his application – for fraud and terrorist affiliations. When applying for his student visa, he failed to disclose his service in the Iranian air force. He was also a member of a paramilitary group called the Basij. The Basij was recently designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. And it has been implicated in multiple human rights abuses. Radio Farda notes that Basij members have a reputation for beating up people who oppose Iran’s theocratic regime and has been “responsible for killing dozens.”

Mr. Ostadhassan has now made national news. Because, according to CNN, he was the “victim” of a “shadowy federal program [that]is ensnaring thousands of Muslim immigrants.”  That program is called CARRP, which is an acronym for Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing Mr. Ostadhassan in a lawsuit which claims that “CARRP is discriminatory and illegal.”

That assertion is a stretch. In reality, CARRP is simply a set of vetting guidelines used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to conduct background checks on applicants for immigration benefits. CNN summarizes the CARRP process as follows:

CARRP basically works in four stages, from identifying potential national security risks to judging whether immigrants can stay in the United States. Along the way, USCIS consults with counterterrorism databases and officials inside agencies such as the FBI.

So, in essence, USCIS would like to know if a foreign national who has filed an immigration application is a terrorist, a spy, or a member of an international crime organization – and it uses a structured investigative process to do so. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly shadowy or opaque about that.

Moreover, the reason USCIS doesn’t release specifics about that investigative process is simple: If you want investigative procedures to remain effective, then you don’t make them public because the bad guys will read them and figure out how to cover up their illicit/dangerous activity. That’s why federal law imposes penalties for the disclosure of classified information and why FOIA contains investigative and national security exemptions.

To anyone living in a post-9/11 America, none of that should be remotely shocking. In fact, the vast majority of Americans feel that the most basic function of government is to protect them from crime, terrorism and foreign invasion. The ACLU and the corporate media disagree. They believe that USCIS exists solely to rubber-stamp any application filed by any foreign national and they think that any kind of immigration enforcement is inherently “racist.”

As for Mr. Ostadhassan, he hasn’t been the victim of anything other than good vetting practices that caught his terrorist affiliation and his own failure to disclose service in a foreign military that is overtly hostile to the United States.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    More fakest of fake news from CNN. This is the same propaganda that Trump had a “Muslin ban” on entry into this country. Never mind that it was only for seven countries out of forty-some and was a carbon copy of a list of the same countries under Obama. Nor is failing to declare service in a foreign military some minor slip-up. It was done deliberately. It’s not like forgetting that fast food restaurant you worked at for three weeks. As far as CNN this is the same “unbiased” network that gave Hillary debate questions ahead of time twice.

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