US easing immigration rule for terrorist support

US easing immigration rule for terrorist support

The Obama administration has eased the rules for would-be asylum-seekers, refugees and others who hope to come to the US or stay here and who gave "limited" support to terrorists or terrorist groups.

The change is one of President Barack Obama's first actions on immigration since he pledged during his State of the Union address last month to use more executive directives.

The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department now say that people considered to have provided "limited material support" to terrorists or terrorist groups are no longer automatically barred from the United States.

A post-September 11 provision in immigrant law, known as terrorism related inadmissibility grounds, had affected anyone considered to have given support. With little exception, the provision has been applied rigidly to those trying to enter the US and those already here but wanting to change their immigration status.

For Morteza Assadi, a 49-year-old real estate agent in northern Virginia, the law has left him in a sort of immigration purgatory while his green card application has been on hold for more than a decade.

As a teenager in Tehran, Iran, in the early 1980s, Assadi distributed fliers for a mujahedeen group that opposed the government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and was at one time considered a terrorist organisation by the US government.
Assadi said he told the US government about his activities when he and his wife applied for asylum in the late 1990s.

Those requests were later granted and his wife has since become a US citizen. But Assadi's case has remained stalled. "When we are teenagers, we have different mindsets," Assadi said. "I thought, 'I'm doing my country a favour.'"

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