An Iraqi interpreter who risked his life to help American troops is now a U.S. Citizen. Thirty-six-year-old Haeder Alanbki took the oath of citizenship in Orlando on Tuesday.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Alanbki "was stabbed four times and shot while serving with U.S. forces in Iraq." The paper says, "Soldiers who served with him said he was facing certain death back home and had a $25,000 bounty on his head." The Times says Alanbki's brother, also an interpreter, was killed while serving with U.S. forces in Iraq.

After arriving in Florida Alanbki fought for two years to become an American citizen. He tells the Times, "I am so happy for this moment. I am going to write a book called How to Be an American, about my long journey to get here."

Alanbki came to American under a special visa program to help bring those foreigners who helped U.S. service people in Afghanistan and Iraq into the country. He has also volunteered for service in the National Guard. But, even though he applied for citizenship under the program, his application was denied. He filed suit last month and his application was approved.

My cousin Nathan Souza served with Alanbki and says he's "a hell of a guy" who wanted nothing more than to become an American.

This is a story of a man who put everything on the line to become an American citizen. He loved this country and did everything he could, including filing suit, to make his dream come true. Remember Haeder Alanbki next time you see illegal immigrants marching with a list of demands while insisting that they are entitled.

America is a better place because of Haeder Alanbki. Welcome home.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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