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Soldier Fights Citizenship Delays

Julian Polous Al Matchy,
U.S. Army Specialist
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July 18, 2008

I am a native of Iraq and proud to be a U.S. Army soldier with a Purple Heart. I love the U.S. and that’s why I want to become a citizen. But my naturalization has been delayed. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told me that it’s because, despite my combat service in the U.S. Army, I haven’t passed the FBI background check.

When I was serving this country and the U.S. Army in Iraq, a suicide bomber blew up just 10 feet from me and my buddies, and I was seriously wounded. After partially recovering from my injuries, I did another stint in Iraq until December 2007. For my service, I was awarded the Purple Heart, two Army Commendation medals, a Combat Action badge, Gold Combat Spurs and many certificates and letters of appreciation.

In August 2006, having met all the requirements for citizenship, I applied for naturalization. I was interviewed by USCIS on January 18, 2008 and I passed the exam. I know that naturalization is a long process and I have tried to be patient. I’ve followed all the rules but it’s a confusing mess and my citizenship has been delayed over 6 months now.

At one point, I was told by a USCIS official that my citizenship would be expedited because of my military status. At another point, I was told it would take longer because of my military status. By yet another official, I was told that the USCIS never does checks on military background before granting citizenship.

With my experience translating in the Army, I will be looking for those kinds of civilian jobs open only to U.S. citizens. That’s why with the help of the ACLU, I’m suing the government for delaying my citizenship.

My military background is easy to check. I have many commendations and medical record resulting from my injuries. If they found out something about me they didn’t like, why did they send me to Iraq in the first place?

Specialist Polous is a permanent lawful resident of the United States, currently stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas. He is a native and citizen of Iraq. He immigrated to the U.S. in May 2001 and quickly applied for political asylum, which was granted in 2002. In 2005, he became a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

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