Meet Abdul, One of Georgia’s Newest Citizens

This month, we sat down to learn more about Abdul Haikal, New AP’s Employment Specialist who arrived on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) from Afghanistan. We are proud to have him as a member of the New AP family and as a new citizen of the United States of America!

Q: What was your path to Citizenship?
A: I served for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan as an interpreter, translator, and intelligence specialist, and then I received the Special Immigrant Visa and I moved to the U.S. in 2012 with my family. In a very short period of time I started working and taking care of my family. I got a second job and started going to school, too.

Q: Why was it important for you to become a U.S. citizen?
A: For me it was extremely important to be a U.S. citizen to vote for the first time for my elected representatives, my governor, and hopefully for my next President.

Q: What was the citizenship ceremony like?
A: It was an hour-long ceremony where I took an oath giving up loyalty to other countries and pledging loyalty to America. I was very much proud to become a citizen, and I will be proud to serve this country as long as I’m alive, and I will do anything in my power to make this country the best it can be.

Q: What led you to New AP?
A: I was resettled through a different agency, but fortunately I found New American Pathways and I started working for them as a contractor. I saw a great opportunity to help newly arrived refugees and immigrants, and I applied to work here as an Employment Specialist. Fortunately, I’m now in a position to help hundreds of people find employment, support their families, and become self-sufficient. I’m very proud to serve and help new Americans.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: When I was new here in America I had a lot of difficulty regarding employment, but now I am in a position where I can help others and I will reach out to see what their needs are. If someone lives within 100 square miles of Atlanta, I will make sure to place them into a job. When I place them into a job, that is better than anything else. I want them to work and support their family, and I love that. I am very passionate about supporting and helping them.

Q: What other ways have you advocated for immigrants and refugees?
A: I heard that some gentlemen wanted to create limitations to the Georgia driver’s license for noncitizens which I thought would create difficulty and confusion for the companies that I was placing people in. The first document that employers look for is a driver’s license, so the law would make employers less interested in hiring the people I work with. Businesses and employers would lose potential employees and lose money. It could have created a huge problem. Fortunately, I was able to go to the Capitol and speak to the lawmakers and in the end the bill did not pass.

Q: How has your family adjusted to life in the U.S.?
A: I can call myself the luckiest person in the world. I have three children and two of them are going to school in this wonderful country. My wife is doing great, she recently got her driver’s license and is ready to start working soon. She wants work in the health field and help elderly people in her community. Things are going great!

Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I am currently in medical (nursing) school studying to become a nurse. I will graduate in March 2019 and my long-term goal is to be a Registered Nurse. If the opportunity is available, I would like to continue my education, get my Ph.D., and become a physician or a physician’s assistant. I have big hopes for the future. A lot of people are asking how I will handle that: two jobs, school, and family. But I know I can do it.

Abdul will be celebrated as one of Georgia’s newest citizens at our Red, White and NEW gala next month! Get your ticket today!

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