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Veteran wins citizenship battle – QNS.com

Veteran wins citizenship battle

It was a homecoming of sorts, said the fresh-faced, 22-year-old veteran after he was sworn in as an American recently.
“It reminded me of when I first joined the Army. It was almost the same oath,” said Sergeant Feyad Mohammed, who had completed two tours of Iraq but had to fight for four years to earn his citizenship.
On Friday, January 25, the Trinidad and Tobago native’s long battle ended with a ceremony in downtown Brooklyn’s Federal Court.
Along with about 250 other new Americans, Mohammed swore to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic” - a pledge similar to the one he took before his first deployment to Iraq in 2003.
After graduating from Richmond Hill High School, Mohammed enlisted in the U.S. Army, and between tours, he applied for his citizenship four times. Each time his paperwork was either lost or sent to the wrong place, immigration officials told him.
Last year, the Richmond Hill resident, whose parents and younger siblings had become citizens while Mohammed was serving in the military, put a call in to Senator Chuck Schumer to see if he could speed up the process. Mohammed had been considering a career with the New York Police Department or with the Port Authority but could not begin work for either of the agencies without his citizenship.
Schumer publicly criticized immigration officials for not fast tracking the application, and Mohammed said subsequently his application process went much quicker. He took and passed his citizenship test in December 2007, and he was told later that month that he would be sworn in.
On Friday, Mohammed traveled to the courthouse with his father and brother at 8 a.m. and by noon, all of those being naturalized had filled out their forms and assembled in the stately courtroom.
Judge Brian Cogan told the new Americans, “Nobody is allowed to discriminate against you because of where you come from, what color your skin is.”
Then he asked the crowd to look around.
Mohammed said that at that moment he took the opportunity to see the diversity that surrounded him.
Also looking back at him from across the court were Mohammed’s beaming family members.
“My dad and my mom are the reason I am here. They brought me here when I was still a little kid. I’m thankful for them, for everyone that helped me out,” he said.
Before leaving the courthouse, Mohammed said that he now plans to pursue a career with ICE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - but for the moment, he was simply excited to share the day with family and friends.
“I’m happy,” he said. “It kicked in that I’m actually a citizen now.”

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