ORLANDO, Fla. – For three years and three months, Ali Hussain has waited to become a U.S. citizen.
On Thursday, his wait was over – but not before he sued the federal government.
In February, Hussain and 24 other Muslims joined a statewide lawsuit against Citizenship and Immigration Services and the FBI for what they called unusually lengthy delays in processing their citizenship applications. Some waited as long as five years.
“The lawsuit helped my application. I have been waiting so long,” said Hussain, an Orlando machinist from Iraq.
In a post Sept. 11 era of fingerprinting and thorough background checks, legal action is also becoming part of the naturalization process, say some area attorneys.
“These lawsuits bring attention to the government that (processing delays) is a big problem,” said Shahzad Ahmed, an Orlando attorney who represents several Muslim clients.
Of the seven Central Florida plaintiffs in the statewide lawsuit, five have since become U.S. Citizens. Four plaintiffs were sworn in as citizens Thursday at the Orange County Convention Center.