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Father blocking woman’s path to U.S. citizenship

A woman is suing both her estranged father and the immigration authorities for blocking her desire to become naturalized in the U.S. She is a refugee from Ethiopia who came to this country at the age of 17, accompanied by her father and five other children, her mother stayed behind. That was in 2004. She obtained a green card later with sister she was living with. She now has not communicated with her father in years. Authorities say that his paternity must be proven with a blood test as part of her process of becoming a U.S. citizen. He refuses, however, to cooperate by taking the test.

Her lawsuit seeks to compel him to do so, while arguing in the alternative that it is unreasonable for immigration to penalize her for the lack of the test just because her father won't cooperate. Her application has been pending since last May. The blood test was required because they claim she incorrectly answered a question about her father's last name. She does, from everything she knows, believe him to be her father.

She argues that even if he actually is not, she should not be denied citizenship for that reason. Her eldest sister is actually the one who filed papers that allowed her to come into the country as a refugee, and a blood test could show that they are sisters. Her father never took any action on her behalf as to her immigration status. One immigration employee stated that this was the first time in his 35-year career as an investigator that a parent refused a blood test.

The woman has no criminal record, is working and has no other obstacles. There are, in individual cases, seemingly arbitrary or bureaucratic obstacles to becoming a U.S. citizen. She did not have a lawyer at earlier stages of her application, including her interview. This was clearly a mistake, as an attorney would have prepared her better for the interview. Applicants in North Carolina and nationwide should always consult with an experienced immigration lawyer before applying for U.S. citizenship so that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Source: Star Tribune, "St. Paul woman wants to be U.S. citizen, but her father won't submit to a blood test" Randy Furst, Dec. 25, 2013

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