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How CARRP Flags Immigrants as National Security Threats

The process of flagging and identifying under CARRP is obscure, and little has been known about the program since its inception.

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In 2008 under President George W. Bush, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) instituted the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) to vet immigrants that could present “national security concerns” to the United States and “ensure that immigration benefits are not granted to individuals and organizations that pose a threat to national security.” The process of flagging and identifying under CARRP is obscure, and little has been known about the program since its inception. 

According to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), CARRP disproportionately targets Muslims and immigrants from the Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim communities. An applicant flagged in the CARRP program is effectively blacklisted from receiving any immigration benefits. 

Applicants that are designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by the FBI may be referred to CARRP at any stage of the screening and adjudicative process when applying for immigration benefits. 

In a 2009 CARRP training manual obtained by the ACLU, USCIS officers are directed to use three broad categories to indicate a potential national security risk: “employment, training, or government affiliation,” “Suspicious Activities” and “Family Members or Close Associate.” USCIS officers must follow FBI direction when deciding to approve, deny, or to hold indefinitely each case flagged under CARRP.

In a case called Wagafe v. Trump, the ACLU and partners filed a class action lawsuit in 2017 alleging CARRP is illegal and unconstitutional, which included the basis for discriminatory factors such as religion and national origin. The litigation remains ongoing.

Also read: How the Department of Homeland Security Was Created and What It Does

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