Voices: The joyous highs and problematic lows of finally becoming an American citizen

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Voices: The joyous highs and problematic lows of finally becoming an American citizen
© Getty Images/iStockphoto

I never really thought about being French — and then all of a sudden I was becoming an American

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

– Getty Images/iStockphoto

The immigration services building in downtown Manhattan doesn’t look like a place where long-held hopes and dreams come true. It’s a towering, 41-story-high behemoth. It makes you feel a specific kind of small, the way only skyscrapers can.

Global Tech News Daily

If you’re an immigrant in New York City, you will have visited the Jacob K Javits Federal Building, as it’s known among fans, a number of times. Unless you have nerves of absolute steel, you will feel some amount of stress at the mere mention of 26 Federal Plaza, where this charming landmark is located. The immigration process, you see, is a convoluted one, and even formalities (such as getting your fingerprints taken) can necessitate jumping through a few logistical hoops.

But on Monday, I traveled to the Jacob K Javits Federal Building for a happy occasion. After seven years in the US, I stood in a room with a group of fellow applicants. I raised my right hand. I took an oath of allegiance. And just like that, I became a naturalized American citizen. Due to Covid, the ceremony was understated – my group took the oath via video link, while it was being administered in person in the room next door – but hey, the result is the same: I’m an American now! I can vote! I can stay here, with my husband and the people we love, for as long as I want!

Global Tech News Daily

Most people go their entire life without having to proactively commit to a country. They obtain citizenship through birth and/or parentage, and voila. I, for example, was born in France to French parents, and was thus a French citizen at birth. I’ve had thoughts about France, obviously, but until recently, I’d never had to weigh whether I wanted to remain French. I just was. It was a card I had been dealt, period.

I’ve known for several years that I would one day become eligible for US citizenship. Before Monday, I was a permanent resident, a.k.a a green card holder. It’s a pretty stable status, and one you can keep for a long time. (In the mythology of US immigration, the green card is a holy grail, because it gives you the right to stay in the US for at least 10 years, and you can work wherever you want, which isn’t the case if your visa is attached to your employer.) I wasn’t obliged to file for citizenship. I chose to. It was a decision I wrestled with for some time, but ultimately, it was the only thing that made sense.

My seven years in the US have been turbulent. And by turbulent, I mean “marked by political and social upheaval the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades”. When I moved to the US in July 2014, Barack Obama was still president. I received my first green card two weeks before Donald Trump won the 2016 election. It’s been, well, a journey, marked among other things by a pandemic and a deadly insurrection.

So, yes, there were times I wasn’t sure I wanted to file for citizenship of a country like the US. Why would I want to, when its political system kept failing to maintain basic levels of democracy; when it let powerful people off the hook time and time again, but disproportionately punished the less privileged; when even a passing glance at a newspaper brought to mind a question the writer Gabe Hudson is fond of asking on Twitter: “Seriously, does anybody know what the f*** is going on?”

The answer, obviously, isn’t that I stopped caring about all of these things, or that I suddenly became fine with our current state of affairs. So why did I decide to hitch my wagon to the good old US of A?

First, there were practical reasons. Renewing a green card (which you have to do every decade) used to be a formality, but during the Trump years, it seemed more like a lottery. Any immigrant status was suddenly much more fragile, and renewal couldn’t be taken for granted. I became tired of living with the latent anxiety that the life I have built here – and you can, as it turns out, build a whole lot of life in the span of seven years – would be taken away. I have a husband here (an American citizen himself), and an apartment, and a dog. This is my home. I wanted my status to reflect that.

There are also some major disadvantages to being a green card holder, as cushy a status as it is. You pay taxes just as if you are a US citizen, but you can’t vote. You can claim some public benefits, but not all. You can’t run for public office (not that I have any plans to, but it would be nice to have the option), you can’t apply for certain federal jobs, and you can’t stay out of the US for more than six months without losing your status. Some of these reasons had hardly any bearing on my decision to pursue citizenship; others — like being able to exercise a vote in the country in which I live — had much more.

Becoming an American doesn’t mean I automatically became a Stars and Stripes-waving patriot, however. I don’t think it’s ever good, or even possible, to love a country unreservedly. A wise man – who, adequately, happens to be American bestselling author Hank Green – once told me it’s vital that we be critical of the things that we love. I think about this sentence a lot, and I thought about it even more frequently in the lead-up to my naturalization.

I’m lucky to have received messages from my now-fellow Americans welcoming me to my new country (some tinged with understandable concern about the possibility that the US will become a hellscape we’ll need to escape from within the next decade.) And even the most comfortable immigration experience (I could afford an attorney, I had a clear path to residency and citizenship) can sometimes leave you feeling like an outsider. But there are so many people who, over the years I’ve spent in this country, have made me feel welcome here. And that means more than I could put into words.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

News Related


New York Rangers get another comeback win to force Game 7 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH — How many times can the New York Rangers dig themselves into a hole and climb back out? At least one more, as of Friday night. The Blueshirts came ... Read more »

Wilson, balanced Aces cruise to 96-73 victory over Dream

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (AP) — A’ja Wilson scored 15 points, Kelsey Plum had 14 points and 11 assists and the Las Vegas Aces rolled to a 96-73 victory over the ... Read more »

EXPLAINER: Why frustration lingers in Okinawa 50 years later

The Associated PressFILE – U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Mike Anglen of Turner, Ore., center, stands atop a cliff as Sgt. Bryan Wallace of Pikin, Ill., waits for his turn before ... Read more »

Astros beat Nationals 6-1 for 11th straight victory

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep and the Houston Astros extended their winning streak to ... Read more »

Kreider scores late, Rangers edge Pens 5-3 to force Game 7

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Kreider’s long slap shot bounced over Louis Domingue and into the net with 1:28 left and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on ... Read more »

Astros push winning streak to 11, roll past Nationals 6-1

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered on the first pitch of the game, and Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel also went deep to help the Houston Astros extend their winning ... Read more »

Moustakas, Drury power Reds to 8-2 victory over Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Moustakas homered twice and Brandon Drury drove in four runs to break out of a slump and lead the resurgent Cincinnati Reds to an 8-2 victory ... Read more »

Peterson's bases-loaded walk lifts Brewers over Marlins 2-1

MIAMI (AP) — Jace Peterson walked against Anthony Bender with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Miami Marlins 2-1 Friday night. After starters ... Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during manager Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Ogunbowale, Gray help Wings rally past Mystics, 94-86

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 27 points, Allisha Gray had 21 and the Dallas Wings overcame a 15-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Washington Mystics 94-86 on Friday night. ... Read more »

Resigning North Dakota senator led lawmakers in travel costs

The Associated PressFILE – North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg listens during a joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee meeting at the Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on Jan. 7, 2009. Holmberg, ... Read more »

Residents in picturesque California county hit with gas prices topping $7 a gallon

A California county known for its spectacular mountains and proximity to Yosemite National Park has been paying the nation’s highest gas prices. Read more »

Boudreau to return as coach of Canucks next season

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Bruce Boudreau will return as coach of the Vancouver Canucks next season after helping to turn the struggling NHL club around as a midyear replacement. ... Read more »

New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID

On Location: May 13, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tested positive for COVID-19 ... Read more »

Today in History for May 14th

Highlights of this day in history: Colonists go ashore in Virginia to set up Jamestown; Lewis and Clark begin to explore Louisiana Territory; Israel founded; Skylab launched; Movie producer George ... Read more »

Twitter CEO expects Elon Musk acquisition to close, addresses spending cuts

Musk is awaiting details supporting calculations that spam, fake accounts represent less than 5% of Twitter's users Read more »

Padres: No cancer found during Bob Melvin's prostate surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres say no cancer was found when manager Bob Melvin had prostate surgery on Wednesday. Melvin, 60, was recovering at home Friday after ... Read more »

Renovated NYC museum shows indigenous perspectives

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City recently finished a major renovation of its exhibition on the native peoples of the northwest coast of North America. Curators ... Read more »

Police release 911 calls in Gilgo Beach case

A woman who disappeared in a beach community on New York’s Long Island more than a decade ago, sparking an investigation into a possible serial killer, said “there’s somebody after ... Read more »

Academy Awards set 2023 Oscars for March 12

The Associated PressFILE – Oscar statue on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Next year’s Academy Awards will ... Read more »

Actor Fred Ward, of 'Tremors,' 'The Right Stuff' fame, dies

The Associated PressFILE – Fred Ward, a cast member in “30 Minutes or Less,” poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 2011. Ward, a ... Read more »

Judge refuses to drop elections suit against Trump, media

NEW YORK — A Colorado judge on Friday denied motions to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by an election systems worker against former President Donald Trump’s campaign, two of its ... Read more »

Q&A: Becky G unveils every side of herself in latest album

The Associated PressFILE – Becky G appears at the Oscars in Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. Beck G’s latest album is “Esquemas.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) NEW YORK ... Read more »

North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea reports 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19 outbreak. Read more »

North Korea confirms 21 new deaths as it battles COVID-19

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says 21 people died and 174,440 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Friday alone as the country scrambles to slow the spread ... Read more »

White Sox place Giolito on COVID list, activate Vaughn

The Chicago White Sox placed ace Lucas Giolito on the COVID-19 injured list and activated outfielder Andrew Vaughn following a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Friday. Giolito began experiencing ... Read more »

Traded back and forth, Ford learns to live out of suitcase

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Ford has learned to travel light — and quickly. Since the start of the season, the 29-year-old first baseman has played for Tacoma, San Francisco ... Read more »

Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink satellites

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from California on Friday. (May 13) Read more »

Celtics' Robert Williams remains out for Game 6 vs. Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Boston forward/center Robert Williams missed his third straight game with an injured left knee as the Celtics tried to keep their season alive Friday night in Game ... Read more »

Padres sign Robinson Canó, plan to use him off the bench

ATLANTA (AP) — The San Diego Padres have signed veteran second baseman Robinson Canó to a major league contract and plan to use him as a left-handed bat off the ... Read more »

WNBA star's Russia detention extended by 1 month

The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner says her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month. Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press the relatively short extension indicated ... Read more »

Louisiana justices toss COVID-related charges against pastor

Hundreds of thousands of Americans fighting long-haul symptoms from COVID-19 Dr. David Putrino from Mount Sinai Health System and COVID long-hauler Joel Fram discuss the long-term effects of the disease.The ... Read more »

Sandy Hook lawsuits against Alex Jones on track to resume

The Associated PressFILE – This Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, photo shows radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at Capitol Hill in Washington. The Sandy Hook families’ lawsuits against ... Read more »

Rockies' Bryant closer to return after cortisone shot

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Rockies outfielder Kris Bryant took swings in the cage Friday for the first time since he was sidelined with a sore back nearly three weeks ago ... Read more »

Mariners demote Jarred Kelenic to minors after poor start

NEW YORK (AP) — Rather than make his Citi Field debut against the team that traded him, Jarred Kelenic was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma by the Seattle Mariners on Friday ... Read more »

Biden: ASEAN partnership 'critical' in this moment

Looking to strengthen ties, President Joe Biden welcomes leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Washington for the first time. “We’re launching a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations,” ... Read more »

Phil Mickelson will not defend his title at next week's PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson caught lightning in a bottle last year at Kiawah Island, winning a major championship at 50 years of age. The fairways flooded, and the golf world stood and ... Read more »

Tennessee Titans' Malik Willis on Ryan Tannehill's mentorship comments: 'Everything is cool'

The Tennessee Titans didn’t take issue with Ryan Tannehill’s comments about mentoring third-round rookie Malik Willis. Willis and coach Mike Vrabel were asked about Tannehill’s scrutinized remarks following the first ... Read more »

Lawyers plan suit against Lufthansa over Jewish passengers

Lawyers for 26 passengers said Friday they told Lufthansa that they will sue the German airline for refusing to let members of a large group of Orthodox Jewish passengers board ... Read more »

Wild face offseason after yet another early ouster

While the Minnesota Wild were stacking up franchise records and securing the extra home game for the first round, general manager Bill Guerin carefully acknowledged a “great year” for the ... Read more »