The decision—to become a citizen now or not

A reader writes:

In 35 days, my family and I can apply for U.S. citizenship. Five years after getting our green cards—which itself took five years of significant lawyer fees getting through an arcane process that works against professionals in a turbulent computer industry—I don’t know if we should apply now. And that breaks my heart.

When I first moved to the United States, it was for the money. I was fairly comfortable with U.S. culture but I was a victim of a very liberal upbringing and came from a country where the majority despise the U.S. while fearing it. However, actually living here and our self-education post 9/11, gradually changed my opinion of the U.S.—to the point that my wife and I would tear up when hearing the Star Spangled Banner—and that was within two years of moving here. Moving back to our home country was no longer an option and I swore I would earn the right for my family and I to stay here legally and become citizens. The U.S., we recognized, was the last haven in the world for traditional Western civilization and we feared having to move back. The day we heard we had earned our green cards was a day that I can remember in fine detail just like other significant events in my life—meeting my future wife, getting married, having our kids, etc. We were now free … or so I thought.

Another day I will remember is the day Obama was elected. In a few hours, the country I thought I knew became something quite different. The majority of the population seemed prepared to throw away everything that made it successful. In the ensuing months, my dread would ebb and flow as evidence came telling me alternately that this country was doomed or it had hope. Did the people of this country still care enough and have the spine to push back on this new growing tyranny? Once it is instituted, my experience is that not only will the people live with it but they will defend it as the moral way. It becomes the default standard by which deviations are judged. On top of that, I’ve seen the politicization of almost every part of our lives touched by this administration. All of these negative developments were easy to predict that night in November 2008—however, my hope lies in the fact that the quality and the quantity of the pushback wasn’t predictable.

So, now here I sit with the government forms ready to go and here are the questions that come to mind: Should I tie myself as a citizen to a country that could rapidly devolve into a clearly national socialist mold from the left (the signs are there every day)? Or should I just stay as a green card holder with legal permanent residency but not citizenship? Clearly, if things turn out for the better, citizenship is what I want and want to be proud of. On the other hand, I don’t want to fear being the citizen of a tyranny. Should I hold off until after the fall elections to see if the forces of good triumph (only part of the longer cultural and electoral battle)? Should I become active politically for the election while my application is pending? I sorely want to but I fear this administration becoming vindictive in the immigration sphere as well (imagine that!). If I do apply, how do I answer the questions in the interview process? Will I get asked any questions that will seek to find out if I’m a “right wing extremist”?

Now, I can’t ask any of you to advise me on how to answer these questions.

I’m writing this more to spur you on: Can you imagine that an immigrant who is proud of this great country and spent years and a small fortune working to earn a place here has to be afraid of finishing the process to become a citizen, of voicing political opinion, of actively taking part in an election?

I am but one person representing but one family. However, I don’t think I am alone. Fellow immigrants share my concerns and are fearful of the future or are taking steps to improve it. Many of us have come from countries where one’s career depended on having the proper political affiliation.

The U.S. is not lost. However the fact that someone can even be afraid of stating his political views means that it is very close to lost. Each of us has to do what we can to make sure that does not happen.

I sure will.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 29, 2010 11:57 AM | Send

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