CONCORD — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire charges in a lawsuit that federal authorities broke their promise that an Indian immigrant who joined the military and served as a dentist would win his U.S. citizenship.
Army Specialist Hiren Korat, 29, said he agreed to enlist in the Army after getting a medical degree from Case Western Reserve University Dental School in 2015.
“The medical recruiter told SPC Korat that the naturalization process would take only 10 to 15 weeks,” the lawsuit said. “Furthermore, the recruiter told SPC Korat that the Army would support his education in oral surgery.”
A resident of Littleton, Korat served more than two years in the military and was no closer to citizenship, lawyers for ACLU-NH said in the lawsuit.
“Our client fulfilled his end of the bargain, but the United States government has not,” said Gilles Bissonnette, the ACLU’s state legal director.
“The government’s actions with respect to our client’s rightful application for citizenship are arbitrary, unfair, and unlawful. Our lawsuit asks the government to right this wrong and make good on its promise to naturalize a soldier who is selflessly serving this country. Our hope is that, after filing this lawsuit, the government will quickly naturalize Spc. Korat given his demonstrated commitment to the country he loves.”
Lawyers for the federal Immigration, Customs and Enforcement Office along with other related agencies have 30 days to respond to this eight-count claim brought this week in U.S. District Court in Concord.
The lawsuit maintains Korat was enlisted in a program known as Military Accessions Vital to National Interest that offers citizenship to immigrants who agree to enlist and have medical or language skills that the military have deemed are in critical need.
He applied for citizenship in July 2017.
According to the suit, Korat fell victim to a new policy adopted in September 2016 during the Obama administration that subjected many of these applications to expanded background checks before they were deemed eligible to be U.S. citizens.
The lawsuit said Korat got good reviews during his service. His commanding officer said Korat has “demonstrated the skills, dedication, and moral character of a good soldier” and is “an important member of (the) unit and his education and skills are highly sought after in the U.S. Army,” the lawsuit said.
But Korat’s lawyers said in the suit that the background check about Korat raised some flags.
Last November, Paul Aswell, chief of accessions division in the Department of the Army, said personnel security completed the assessment of Korat and it was returned with “unfavorable results,” the lawsuit said.
“As a result, DoD stated that SPC Korat did not meet requirements for retention in the Army,” the suit said.
According to the lawsuit, Korat was considered a “moderate” security risk due to purported “financial, loyalty and foreign ties.”
ACLU’s Bissonnette and Ronald Abramson, a Manchester immigration defense lawyer, said in the lawsuit that at the time of his interview Korat was not interviewed and had owed student loans but he has since found work and retains a good credit score.
The assessment found Korat could inherit property from his mother but only if he remained an Indian citizen.
Finally the report noted that both of Korat’s parents had been involved in party politics.
Korat’s lawyers said their client’s father died in November 1998 and his mother had been a politician until 2012 but had no influence over “intelligence or foreign policy.”
The lawsuit said last November 2017 that U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, have inquired with federal authorities about Korat’s status as a citizenship applicant.