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18 February 2011

USCIS naturalizes 98 service members in Kandahar, Afghanistan

Three officers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) district office in Bangkok, Thailand, traveled to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan to naturalize 98 soldiers, sailors and Marines during a ceremony on Jan. 29. The USCIS team, led by Bangkok District Director Robert Looney, included officers Traci Piccian and Leah Van Wilgen.

98 new U.S. citizens after their naturalization ceremony in Kandahar, Afghanistan with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James L. Terry; Karl W. Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; Congressman Darrell Issa; and Robert Looney, USCIS Bangkok District Director. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.)
98 new U.S. citizens after their naturalization ceremony in Kandahar, Afghanistan with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James L. Terry; Karl W. Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; Congressman Darrell Issa; and Robert Looney, USCIS Bangkok District Director. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.)

While USCIS officers regularly travel to military installations worldwide to provide immigration services to members of the armed forces, this is only the second time they have been to Kandahar Airfield, which is close to the front lines. The experience was one the USCIS officers will never forget.

Once there, they reviewed each candidate’s naturalization application package, and administered the naturalization test and interviewed each candidate.

Marine Cpl. Yevgeniy Levin receives his Certificate of Naturalization from Robert Looney, USCIS Bangkok District Director during a naturalization ceremony on Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on Jan. 29. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corp)
Marine Cpl. Yevgeniy Levin receives his Certificate of Naturalization from Robert Looney, USCIS Bangkok District Director during a naturalization ceremony on Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on Jan. 29. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corp)

The compelling stories of service and personal courage heard during those interviews continue to resonate with the USCIS officers.

They learned that four of the new citizens have received the Purple Heart for wounds they received while deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Army Spc. Abdirahman Mohammed Abdul, who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia as a child, proudly brought his Purple Heart medal to the naturalization interview.

The USCIS officers also learned that many of the new citizens have served multiple deployments in Afghanistan or Iraq; in fact, several are on their third deployment, and one – Army Sgt. Jaime Adame, a native of Mexico, has been deployed four times.

During the naturalization ceremony, hosted by the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, District Director Looney thanked the service members and reiterated the USCIS commitment to provide exceptional access to immigration services to all members of the military, whether they serve stateside or on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Servicemembers placed their weapons underneath their seats during the USCIS naturalization ceremony held Jan. 29 on Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)
Servicemembers placed their weapons underneath their seats during the USCIS naturalization ceremony held Jan. 29 on Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)

Also participating in the ceremony was U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry, who said he was honored to share the day with the new citizens. He said that their demonstrated commitment and character has earned them the respect and gratitude of the United States of America.

Also in attendance was a delegation of six U.S. congressmen in Afghanistan to visit with the U.S. military and meet with members of the Afghan government. They included Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Rep. Brian Higgins of New York, Rep. Darryl Issa of California, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, and Rep. Todd Platts of Pennsylvania.

Since 2004, when the first naturalization ceremony was held overseas, USCIS has naturalized 885 members of the U.S. armed forces deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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51 Comments:

At February 22, 2011 at 11:23:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Four tours of duty! He certainly does deserve his citizenship. Bless them and all they do to keep America free.
Lisa Dudley

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:23:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very moving,so glad you were able to help these selfish young people who are in harms way.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:30:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulation my country mate !!!!!! God Bless U all and protect U all !!!!!!
Stay safe !!!!!!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:30:00 AM EST , Blogger alisaidkhan said...

very amazing

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:41:00 AM EST , Anonymous SC said...

I love it! Congratulations and thank you to all!!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:41:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A truly deserving number of citizens who have already demonstrated thier loyalty ro thier new country.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:55:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. It's good to know there is more going on in this world than the unrest we see on TV and read in the newspaper.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 11:59:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 12:44:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

great moment. wish you safety and more courage. may god be with you all. god bless america

 
At February 22, 2011 at 12:49:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about those people like my self who have been serving people of US since last 10 years and have not even received their green card. why cant USCIS expedite the application process. we are willing to pay the extra cost involved.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 1:01:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

PROUD ON USCIS INITIATIVES
PROUD ON OUR UNIFORMED SOLDIERS.

NATURALIZED US CITIZEN FROM INDIA

 
At February 22, 2011 at 1:26:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

congratulations, and thank you for your service

 
At February 22, 2011 at 1:44:00 PM EST , Blogger birhanu said...

Congratulations to you all. Thank you for your great service.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 2:06:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you and Congratulations to all of you for defending the Constitution of the United States---Foreign and Domestic. I kind-a know what you are all going through. I was an immigrant like you when I join the US Armed Forces of the US. I've served more than 30 years. May GOD Protect and Bless you and your family. Gil & Family

 
At February 22, 2011 at 2:34:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the country where I come, we are taught that the 3 most important values in the life are: The Almighty God, Our Homeland and Our Family. Whoever who is willing to die for the Homeland deserves the Citizenship. Congratulations!!!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 2:37:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May you be granted, all of your requirements, in order to continue your work, fight for your values with the power of the Pen and paper, weapons will be used on you, but word can go very far, and benefit all,

GOD BLESS YOU ALL!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 2:39:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May you fight well and comeback safe.
CONGRATULATIONS!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 2:48:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's really a selfless service for one to go on to fight for a Country he or she is yet to become a citizen of? I am really proud of these guys!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 3:36:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you all. Thank you all especial to my son. thank you for you great services.
Good Bless AMERICA

 
At February 22, 2011 at 3:44:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, our dear heroes! Thank you very much for your service to our country and people! We salute you! We will always keep you in our prayers. God bless.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 4:24:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving your time and life, so America can enjoy the Freedom. Congratulations. You deserve it! My god protect you and bring you home safety. Love.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 5:43:00 PM EST , Blogger kdeh2 said...

Congratulations on your new citizenship! I would also like to say thank you to the USCIS Officers and other USCIS personal who go above and beyond to make this possible. May God Bless all of you and keep you safe always.

Karen D. Gaur

 
At February 22, 2011 at 5:47:00 PM EST , Blogger MUZZAMMAL said...

A MUSLIM FOR PEACE.MY RELIGIOUS TEACH US LOVE AND PEACE.
I AM IMMIGRANT MUSLIM 32 YEARS
GOD BLESS AMERICA
IN GOD WE TRUST.
A MUSLIM PAKISTANI

 
At February 22, 2011 at 6:00:00 PM EST , Blogger Odette said...

Congratulations!
But I am astonished about how your system works. Many people who took and did not earn their the American passport have told lies to the USA immigration all the time that they are living in the United States while they haven;t been living in the USA. They make their friends use their credit cards and their phones, etc to prove that they have existed within the USA noundaries. and they have sworn and took the American passports. While on the other hand the people who had never told lies like me and file I90 to renew their green card and due to delayed or long time processing are filing for I-131 for re-entry permit and are serious to live in the USA and may not earn credentials to be give a chance to prove their seriousness to live in the USA. It seems the honest people any where in the world do not have another chance. i know about a person who has lived in the USA for 2 years and 6 months and when they have said that they did not live in the USA for 6 months to make them three years, they were not given the honorable inthe strictest sense the American passport because as per the law it is not full 3 years. i believe yes there is a law; but a person who has never told lies to the immigration; you should not be rigid and assess the worthiness and trustworthiness and the loyalty and the seriousness of the person in the interview. Many people earned teh American passports based on lies and manipulative ways.
But still from my heart Congratulations for every loyal person!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 6:00:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

ALL OF YOU DESERVE YOUR CITIZENSHIP.YOU HAVE SERVED WITH HONOR AND COURAGE AND ARE GOOD AND TRUTHFUL CITIZENS. GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOUR GOOD WORK!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 6:31:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is with humility in my heart and tears in my eyes that I thank each and every one of you for your service to this great country. Congratulations and WELCOME ABOARD! God speed!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 6:34:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 6:55:00 PM EST , Blogger teresita said...

I salute the USCIS for doing this to our men in uniforms. It's good to know about this.


thank you so much.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 7:34:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you all! Nothing can make more proud being Americans than such a ceremony, 10,000 miles away from home. Now please keep safe and come back safe and healthy to your new home which you so honorably earned. Until then we are all with you and may G-d bless and protect you.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 8:24:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you and My God Bless you, you are not only fighting for U.S but fighting for world, protecting world from Barbarians who don't know how to leave they only believe in killing...we salute for your courage. once again thanks and go back safe.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 9:06:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent event. we pray for ur best of luck .God Bless you.

 
At February 22, 2011 at 9:41:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome and May God Bless you all for your services!

 
At February 22, 2011 at 10:03:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great! proud to be an American!

 
At February 23, 2011 at 12:29:00 AM EST , Blogger رافد said...

Congratulations to you all
go to freedom

 
At February 23, 2011 at 1:01:00 AM EST , Anonymous Sanjeev Jassal said...

Congratulations to you all. Thank you for your great service.;)

 
At February 23, 2011 at 4:32:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, I would like to bringing US Militaries peace and Freedom in Afghanistan, I know everything but, I can't say to you so fare, I'm Afghan since long years working at media's. OUR GOD PROTECT YOU AND YOUR BRAVE FAMILIES BACK YOUR TOWN SAFETY.

 
At February 23, 2011 at 8:38:00 AM EST , Anonymous Liberty G. Neubarth said...

Congratulations to all New Citizens of United States of America! God Bless you all.

 
At February 23, 2011 at 10:42:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my belief if anybody comes into OUR country and they want to stay here MAKE them serve at least 4 yrs. in the militry and then and only then may they receive their U.S. citizenship.

 
At February 23, 2011 at 5:51:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an American Citizen by choice and am very proud and respectful of my adapted county the USA, "The Greatest Country in the World'. I too, like our newly adopted citizens have always tried to do for my country (done 25 years of public service-still volunteering whenever I can),it sorrows me to see the ungreatfulness of some people expecting everithing for nothing. Let us not take forgranted what GOD has given us in this country; all we have to do is take a look at other countries and what's going on there and compare the difference. THIS IS THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD- LET US BE VERY PROUD OF IT AND LET US LIVE UP TO IT!!! CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE NEW CITIZENS OF THE USA!!!

 
At February 23, 2011 at 8:39:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

COngratulations to all soldiers who risk their life to keep America safe. However, we need to concentrate on our economy and getback to our golden days once again.
Proud to be in America

 
At February 23, 2011 at 10:25:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Proud to an American! And thank you USCIS for your services!
Congratulations to all soliders! Thank you for your services, we greatly value all the sacrifices you do!

NATURALIZED US CITIZEN FROM INDIA

 
At February 24, 2011 at 1:02:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all of you God bless you and protect you

 
At February 24, 2011 at 2:28:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to join too but I don't know how to do this ?

 
At February 26, 2011 at 11:57:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm PROUD TO BE A US CITIZEN AT LEAST I KNOW I AM FREE. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL. THANKS TO THE BIG BOSS USCIS. JESUS IS NOW IN CONTROL HE WILL DO THE REST. MAY GOD BLESS YOU FOR THE JOB WELL DONE. FREEDON IS NOW SPREADING.

 
At March 1, 2011 at 4:43:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My thanks to each of you for serving the USA.

I am glad you are USA citizens!

--Genie

 
At March 7, 2011 at 6:58:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOORRRAAHHHH!! This is outstanding!! Welcome with open arms to your new country. Thank you being willing to service in our military even without being a citizen.

Very motivating! Congratulations to all!

J. M. Kittleson
HMC(FMF) USN

 
At April 18, 2011 at 1:02:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paticulary, as i know USCIS does good work and i believe in there campabilities, I must say im not a advocate on Immigration too which this country the United States of America as a grave immigration Problem. Yes this country was founded by immigrants and yes this country has a Problem where true Americans cant get jobs because we keep inviting others to our country. Infact We give our immigrants everything but what about the true americans what about what we need. What about helping our own country out for once instead of helping the other countries problems. USCIS need to crack down and only invite those immigrants that can actually contribute to America via Buisness and economic standards.

 
At June 21, 2011 at 12:51:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Future soldier, soon to be citizen.
America is not perfect, but is the most perfect country.
America is a beacon of light, shining freedom and democracy.
God bless our soldiers and God bless the United States of America.

 
At May 31, 2012 at 9:56:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Trevor said...

Naturalization in the US is simply one of the most sought-after accomplishments in the world today. I am always happy to welcome new, upstanding and outstanding Americans into the fold.

 
At August 8, 2012 at 1:23:00 PM EDT , Blogger Shagor said...

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Massachusetts Plumber

 
At November 26, 2013 at 12:14:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. It's amazing what one will do for their country.

http://purpleheart-donations.com

 

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