Fort McCoy employee trying to become U.S. citizen - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Fort McCoy employee trying to become U.S. citizen

TOMAH (WXOW)- You can become a citizen of the United States by birth.

If you are born in the United States, or have a parent that is a United States citizen, you yourself are a citizen by default.

You can also become a citizen by law. 

But, that process is much more challenging.

A Tomah man from Iraq is trying to realize his dream of becoming a citizen while facing many setbacks.

Falah Al Maliki is employed at Fort McCoy.

He prepares soldiers deploying to Iraq.

Al Maliki says, "I work as a translator."

As he helps American soldiers, Falah hopes the United States government does the same.

Al Maliki says, "I don't have paper, I don't have green card, I don't have citizen."

Falah Al Maliki's birthplace is Iraq.

He fled the country in 1991 during the Gulf war to avoid fighting. 

After Falah surrendered, the United Nations transported Falah to United States.

 He has made a home for himself here.

Al Maliki says, "I have son.  He is an American citizen.  I have wife.  She is an American citizen.  I have a lot of American friends here."

But, the one thing that still escapes Falah from living the American dream is his citizenship.

Falah says soldiers he works with are left as baffled he is as why he isn't a citizen.

Attorneys say his show patriotism can help in his case to become a citizen.

But, patriotism isn't enough to gain citizenship.

And without it, Al Maliki's job opportunities are limited and he is prevented from seeing his family in Iraq.

His plight to become an American citizen has recently become even more difficult.

Falah has been placed on an American terrorist watch list.

He says it is a mistake. 

To become an American citizen, Falah may have to seek legal council, but that Falah says that is too expensive. 

Falah says he keeps running up against roadblocks on his path to citizenship and doesn't know where to turn to next.

He hopes by telling his story, someone will be able to help him and his family.  

The reason Falah believes he is on a terrorist watch list is because he has a co-worker who recently traveled to Iraq to visit his family.

When his friend returned, he received a letter say he was on a watch list due to possible terrorist activities.

Shortly after Falah's friend received the letter, Falah also received one.

Falah calls every month to Homeland Security, hoping that his situation will change.

Senator Kohl's office has made multiple calls on behalf of Falah to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service.

Officials with Kohl's office call the situation an active case and that it is under discussion within the agency.

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