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Cultural Advisor And Interpreter To U.S. Army Commanding General In Iraq Is Sworn In As American Citizen

by Thomas Ragland

Washington, DC – Ms. Hamela Haggas, an Iraqi translator serving with the Commanding Staff of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army in Iraq, proudly became a citizen of the United States in Baltimore, Maryland today under a provision of U.S. immigration law that expedites the naturalization of a person married to a U.S. citizen who is stationed abroad and employed by the U.S. Government. Not only is Ms. Haggas married to an officer stationed with the U.S. Army in Iraq, she herself serves as a cultural advisor and linguist for Lt. General James M. Dubik, Commanding General of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq in Baghdad. Ms. Haggas is a key member of the General’s staff, and General Dubik has lent his full support to her efforts to obtain U.S. citizenship.

A Kurdish Muslim whose brother was imprisoned and killed by Saddam Hussein and whose sister was murdered by jihadists, Ms. Haggas volunteered to become a translator for the U.S. Army in March 2003, shortly after American forces arrived in Iraq. Later, despite repeated death threats, she accepted a high profile interpreter position, first serving as translator for Lt. General Carter Ham, then for Lt. General Martin Dempsey, and now for Commanding General Dubik. In 2004, Ms. Haggas was awarded a Superior Civilian medal from the U.S. Army. In March 2005, Ms. Haggas married Captain Scott M. Haggas, a U.S. citizen who is currently serving in Iraq as a Battalion Logistics Officer.

Under Section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Ms. Haggas became eligible to apply for naturalization without accruing the three years of physical presence in the United States that is normally required, because her husband is an employee of the U.S. Government and is stationed abroad. Given her vital role with U.S. forces in Iraq, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) arranged to conduct Ms. Haggas’s naturalization interview and administer her naturalization oath in a single day. The agency, often criticized for its delays and bureaucratic red tape, is to be commended for processing this case with alacrity.

About The Author

Thomas Ragland of Maggio & Kattar, P.C. represented Ms. Haggas. Maggio & Kattar, P.C. is a Washington, DC based full-service immigration law firm.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.