Former Hammond man sues Hillary Clinton over passport denial

2012-04-22T20:00:00Z 2012-04-23T13:05:17Z Former Hammond man sues Hillary Clinton over passport denialBy Marisa Kwiatkowski, (219) 662-5333

HAMMOND | An Illinois man is suing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the denial of his passport application, federal court records show.

Cliff Urban, 22, of Midlothian, filed the federal lawsuit in November, claiming he was denied his right to a U.S. passport and to travel as a natural-born U.S. citizen. He told The Times he believes he is being discriminated against because he is Muslim.

"They just keep giving me the go-around," he said of the government.

In June 2009, Urban applied for a passport at a post office near Hammond, where he used to live, court records state. He submitted his Illinois birth certificate and passport photos along with the application.

In the lawsuit, Urban claims the post office initially would not accept his passport application because he was wearing a tarboosh, which is religious headwear, in his passport photo. Urban complained to the American Civil Liberties Union and Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The post office allowed him to submit his application two days later, court records state.

On Aug. 6, 2009, the U.S. Department of State's New Orleans Passport Agency sent Urban a letter requesting additional documentation to "further establish" his identity. It required Urban to submit five personal documents, each more than five years old, records show.

"If possible, please include early school transcripts, high school yearbook pages showing your name and photograph, religious records, medical records and tax/employment records," the letter stated.

Urban submitted eight documents to confirm his identity, court records state.

On Nov. 20, 2009, the Passport Agency sent Urban a letter confirming it received the documents and Urban was entitled to a U.S. passport. The agency said Urban would not receive a passport unless he filled out the application form and resubmitted the photo enclosed with its reply, but the agency did not send those documents, court records state.

Urban tried to contact the Passport Agency to find out how to move forward, but the office told him he would have to restart the process, court documents state. On Jan. 11, 2010, Urban received a final letter denying his passport application because he hadn't responded to the "deficiencies" identified in its Nov. 20 letter.

Urban sued in federal court, seeking issuance of a passport, the cost of attorney's fees and an award of costs, court records show.

Attorney Jessica Segall, who is representing Clinton in the lawsuit, declined comment and directed all questions to a press contact at the U.S. Department of Justice. That contact did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

Attorney Kevin Vodak, who works for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and is representing Urban, could not be reached for comment.

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