Diaspora

After important document is stolen from car, American citizen struggling to get replacement

HOUSTON – Thieves stole a very important document from a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Houston and now she feels victimized again after several delays while trying to get it replaced.

Asha Hussein was an 8-year-old when she immigrated to the United States in 1994 and became an American citizen in 2005.

“It’s a huge ceremony, it felt really good my family was with me, it was just an amazing moment,” the graduate student said.

She held her official certificate of citizenship close until she fell victim to a common crime.

“Someone broke into my car, my driver’s license was in the bag that they took with my citizenship certificate,” she said.

In November 2016, she used the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to apply for a replacement and paid $350.

The website said it would take six months.

Now, almost eight months and several phone calls later, her application is still pending.

Last week, she got an email acknowledging delay and said her application was under “additional review.”

“But they won’t tell me what the additional review is,” she said.

Hussein wonders if her application got tied up in politics and the controversial immigration/travel ban.

“I am from Somalia and I do have a Somali background and I am a Muslim, but I’m an American so I don’t know what’s taking so long,” she said.

She has a copy of the certificate but that can’t be used for official government business, putting every aspect of her life on hold.

“In order to renew my license, I need the citizenship certificate. So I can’t drive; in order to start my practicum hours in August, I can’t because I don’t have an identification to prove my status,” she said.

We asked the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service about her case, and specifically whether applications from people of certain nationalities were under special review due to the ban.

A spokesperson told us they couldn’t comment on the specifics of any case, but in a statement said: “An immigration case, regardless of nationality, can be delayed for many different reasons, so it is impossible to generalize. A case may not have sufficient evidence; it may be missing paperwork; a signature; or a payment.”

Asha says no one has asked for additional evidence, paperwork or payment. She’s now been told her application could take an additional three months to complete.

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