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Minnesota National Guard
Liberian left for Iraq an immigrant returns a U.S. citizen

Pfc Moses Nyumah was sent to Iraq last year as an immigrant Soldier He returned Thursday as an American

It was a homecoming the Liberia native wasn't expecting when he left

The 28-year-old Brooklyn Park man joined the Minnesota National Guard more than two years ago to serve his adopted country He was rewarded with his citizenship during a naturalization ceremony four months ago while serving in Iraq

"It made me feel more free," Nyumah said

As an immigrant, his new citizenship makes him feel more integrated into American culture, he added

Nyumah, who returned with the other 22 members of the Roseville-based 247th Finance Detachment, is one of thousands of immigrant Soldiers who fight for the United States Many are being rewarded with an expedited citizenship Another member of the Roseville unit, Spc James Idoko also will get a chance to speed up his citizenship process

Serving in the military has become a way for immigrants to speed up their citizenship application after the Immigration and Nationality Act was backed by President Bush in the wake of the Sept 11 attacks

Marilu Cabrera, spokeswoman for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said it is supposed to take six to eight months for a regular civilian to navigate the naturalization process

"For the military, we expedite those cases," she said

More than 150 other immigrant armed forces members took part in the Veteran's Day ceremony Nyumah did

Nearly 37,000 military personnel have been naturalized since Sept 11, according to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Cabrera wasn't sure how many of those were Minnesotans

Nyumah said the expedited citizenship wasn't his motive for enlisting

Louise Tamba, Nyumah's mother, fled to the United States from war-torn Liberia 13 years ago with her children and family A personal banking officer for Bremer Bank now settled in Brooklyn Park with her family, Tamba is still trying to become a naturalized citizen

Tamba admits she didn't take it well when Nyumah told her he was enlisting in the military

"I left because of the war," Tamba said "When he told me he wanted to join the Army, it was tough It was hard to let go"

But none of that mattered Thursday Her son was home safely and, in a sense, a new man

"I'm so happy," she said

Now, Nyumah will readjust to life as a civilian - and as a full-fledged American

Already he is planning to return to college He hopes his citizenship will help him provide better for his family

Meanwhile, fellow Soldier Idoko must wait for his citizenship

A special naturalization ceremony for him was planned for Thursday, but it was postponed until after Idoko returns from a trip to his native Nigeria to visit his wife and newborn daughter

Had he gone through the ceremony, he would have lost his green card without enough time to obtain a passport for international travel

"I want to see my family," he said

While his family won't return with him, he hopes to bring them to the US soon

Idoko, 29, came to the US alone in 2000 He received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, in 2005 and has been working as a corrections officer for the Minnesota Department of Corrections

He joined the military in March 2006

"I wanted to contribute," he said

Idoko, too, said the citizenship process was not a factor in deciding to enlist

"Regardless, it was something I was going to get," he said "This is a good country People have struggled to make it better and will continue to fight to make it better"

By Elizabeth Mohr
Pioneer Press
Article source: http://www.twincities.com/ci_8484059

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