Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Dent Helps Georges Jaoudeh Gains U.S. Citizenship
A Lebanese native who spent much of his life has been spent protecting American citizens and diplomats in embassies and consulates in the Middle East, is now a U.S. citizen himself. Bethlehem resident Georges Jaoudeh remained patient as he confronted bureaucratic obstacles, but LV Congressman Charlie Dent still had to push a bill through Congress.
Jaoudeh first began working with Americans in 1986 as Chief of Mission Protective Detail and Firearms Instructor for personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Georges worked at the Beirut Embassy for 17 years – until he decided to move his family to the U.S. in 2004. They promptly began their efforts to become U.S. citizens.
Unfortunately, for Georges, under the rules, individuals who want to become naturalized citizens must maintain a continuous physical presence in the United States for one full year.
Georges’s work stopped him from meeting this requirement. Between 2005 and 2012, Georges shuttled back and forth between America and Iraq. In Iraq, Georges served at the American Embassy in Baghdad, providing protection for Americans and liaising with Iraqi Security Forces.
As an indication of just how important Georges’s work was, both Ryan Crocker (former ambassador to Iraq) and Vincent Battle (former ambassador to Lebanon) wrote glowing testimonials Georges’s behalf. Ambassador Crocker even credited Georges’s work with saving his life. He saw that Georges received a Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts.
Yet, Georges was no closer to becoming a U.S. citizen. While he was overseas protecting and working with Americans, he was not meeting the residency requirement.
Georges sought out Congressman Dent’s help in 2008. Congressman Dent began making inquiries with the Department of Homeland Security, which refused to waive the residency rule.
A legislative fix was required.
Congressman Dent’s bill, H.R. 6223, passed the House in December of 2012. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee helped usher it through. The bill allowed the Department to recognize employment abroad by the Chief of Mission or United States Armed Forces as a translator, interpreter, or in a security-related position in an executive or managerial capacity, would count towards the one year residency requirement.
The law now exists to help others who might find themselves in Mr. Jaoudeh’s situation.
Georges became an American citizen on June 6, 2013. He now works for the State Department in Diplomatic Security. He continues to protect American citizens and diplomats overseas.
“It was a pleasure helping Georges gain citizenship,” said Congressman Dent. “He has given years of his life protecting Americans in some of the roughest hot-spots in the World. I’m glad I had the chance as his Congressman to help him reach his goal of becoming an American.”