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05 October 2010

88 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines Naturalized in Kandahar, Afghanistan

The air is heavy with dust in Kandahar. A thick layer coats everything in sight and casts an eerie haze over both the sun by day and street lights by night. When the day's heat mixes with that dust, it makes for an oppressive, dusk-like combination. Yet here, for the best part of the last week, a team of USCIS employees from the Bangkok District have lived among the troops in order to conduct naturalization interviews, fulfilling the citizenship dreams of dozens of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

On Friday, October 1, 2010, during an early morning naturalization ceremony at Kandahar Air Field, 88 men and women from 37 countries - each with a unique, inspiring story - became America's newest citizens.

Three newly naturalized soldiers

Those stories include three soldiers born in Vietnam. Lifelong friends, they grew up together in Orange County, Calif., joined the Army, deployed to Iraq and independently filed for citizenship. Neither of the three knew their friends would naturalize in Kandahar until they found each other’s name on the ceremony list.

A group of soldiers takes the Oath of Allegiance

For another soldier, his citizenship journey ended in Afghanistan five days after his wife - also a solider - became a citizen during a Fort Bliss, Texas naturalization ceremony. From Afghanistan to Iraq and Korea to Honduras, USCIS employees volunteer to naturalize eligible members of the military where they serve. In a rare twist, the Kandahar ceremony included new citizens from all four branches of the military - each serving their adopted country in Afghanistan. To a person, the three member USCIS team in Kandahar was happy to "rough it" in the field for a few days in order to naturalize American service members serving in harm's way, defending rights and freedoms they had yet to secure for themselves and their families.

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At October 8, 2010 at 1:07:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I congratulate to the naturalized soldiers. Great gesture on part of USCIS. Both me and my wife are PhDs and work for a drug development company. My EB2 (India) priority date is Sept 2008 and very soon my wife is going to exhaust her 6 years of H1 B visa. I am very sure that my company is not going to recruit anyone after my wife leaves job (due to a slow down). We have been in American schools for 6 years as PhD students and post docs. It is giving us sleepless nights as she will have to lose her job after being in US for 9 years. It is not only not fair but highly detrimental to our professional capabilities and growth and of course American economy, also. I request on behalf of thousands of highly educated and skilled professionals belonging to India/China/Phillipines/Mexico, who are going through highly retrogressed/non-current priority dates, that please allow us to adjust our status so that our spouse can work, and we can either change jobs, get raises in salary, or promotions. I strongly believe that such an action will ultimately be good for the worker's rights and for the American economy.

At October 8, 2010 at 1:58:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the latest news, USCIS is planning to increase filing fees in order to address a projected $200 million deficit for 2010-11. I understand that passing a bill to increase per country employment based EB2/EB3immigration visas is required. However, I do not think that a bill is required to let deserving people with an approved I-140 to adjust their status. If USCIS uses its admistrative powers, it can let people adjust status and still wait for their green card until the visa numbers are available. The fee collected in the process will certainly go a long way to close the unprecedented deficit USCIS is facing due to a slow economy and less than expected filings. An admistrative fix by USCIS will remove lots of anxiety the EB2/EB3 folks from certain countries are going through as they can not change their jobs which probably increases exploitation by their employers, less professional growth then they deserve, etc. If these people are able to adjust status, they will get promotions and raise leading to more taxes and their spouse will be able to either get employment or be able to start their own businesses - which again means more taxes and job creation. New York City Mayor Mr Michael Bloomberg and Fox News owner Mr Rupert Murdoch recently mentioned to House Immigration Subcommittee about the need of a reform for highly skilled immigrants that will help economy of USA. I agreee with them and strongly think that even making the priority dates current to allow people to adjust status will itslef be a big stimulus for the weak economy.

At April 6, 2011 at 4:14:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Chicago Criminal Attorney said...

First of all, I congratulate to the naturalized soldiers. Great gesture on part of USCIS I think it will help unite our country.

At April 28, 2011 at 1:56:00 PM EDT , Anonymous James C. Gallo Jr. said...

Congrats to the 88 hard working soldiers who recently have been naturalized! Everyone who fights for our country deserves to be a part of it, its good to see the USCIS understands that! :)


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