Finding a place in America: Soldier describes road to U.S. citizenship
Spc. Mohammed Aziz, Company B, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Division's Rear Detachment in Wiesbaden, talks with U.S. Army Europe Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Robert Brown during a visit by USAREUR officials to Wiesbaden.

WIESBADEN, Germany - Mohammed Aziz had been in the United States three days when he first walked into an Army recruiting office.
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The Bangladesh immigrant was looking for a "job." But Aziz shook his head at that word. He was thinking of something much more than a job.
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Hotels, restaurants, driving taxis, this was the work that awaited his neighbors as they emigrated from the poor countries of Asia to the tough streets of New York City.
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It wasn't what Aziz wanted.
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"In my mind I know this land (of the United States) is opportunity and I can do something here," said the 30-year-old computer science college graduate. "I was thinking about my future. That's the main thing I gained in the Army."
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According to the Pentagon, about 8,000 permanent immigrants with green cards join the Armed Forces every year. Last year the Pentagon reported that about 29,000 foreign-born people serving in the U.S. military were not American citizens.
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"I think everyone immigrating should do something different," said Aziz, now a specialist with the 1st Armored Division Headquarter's Special Troops Battalion Rear Detachment.
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Coming from a family of nine brothers and six sisters, Aziz said his mother always had high hopes for her children. Aziz recognized the downfalls of his birthplace - a country located in South Asia ranked among the most densely populated countries in the world with a high poverty rate.
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Aziz got his education, a bachelor's degree in computer science, in India. He worked for three years at a cell phone and land phone company in Bangladesh.
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It was his mother who applied for Aziz's visa to the United States. And on Dec. 31, 2008, he arrived in New York City, his "dream city."
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But after a few days of menial work prospects and an insurance company job that worked solely on commission, Aziz said he wanted more.
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"I have seen lots of people emigrating from lots of countries, a lot of them educated. They don't know the opportunities that are out there."
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Aziz admitted that joining the Army speeded up his road to citizenship.
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Aziz joined the Army in February 2009, attended basic training at Fort Jackson in April 2009 and finished Advanced Individual Training in Maryland in September 2009.
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After applying for citizenship in August 2009, Aziz interviewed and took the naturalization oath to become an American citizen on Sept. 21, 2009.
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Ushered to the front row during his naturalization ceremony, Aziz and two other members of the U.S. Armed Forces became U.S. citizens that day.
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"Bangladesh is treated as a third world country. A man loves his land whether it is bad or good. But even now when I say that I am from Bangladesh, people don't know us, because we haven't done anything. Economics, politics... in comparison it's devastating. When I say I am an American now, everybody knows America. Technology, education. We lead the world. It's really prideful for me."
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In 2008 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported more than 1.04 million people were granted petitions to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
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Of that total, 5,345 people from Bangladesh were naturalized U.S. citizens.
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Aziz's path to becoming an American citizen is not uncommon. On Feb. 15, 2010, in Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, 107 Army Soldiers took their oaths for U.S. citizenship.
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"I was thinking in my life I will do something different. I was always thinking what are my community people doing. They work in hotels and restaurants. They drive taxies. That is not me. That is not the way of life. Life is change," said Aziz.
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Before being stationed in Germany, Aziz took a holiday to New York City. Walking down the street in his U.S. Army uniform, Aziz said a man stopped to salute him.
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"It was interesting," Aziz said of the experience.
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"I joined for everything. I want to be treated as a first-class citizen," said Aziz. "I am now (like) every other citizen in the USA. I am not an immigrant. I am a citizen."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16