Why Don’t They Just Apply for Citizenship?

This post is based on question posed to me by a white person I know.

Mario and I came to the United States last March. We had spent the last year and a half in an immigration limbo, not sure of where we would be from one month to the next. When we got here, I was really excited to show Mario what life in the U.S. was like. I was not thinking about the state of our country or potential political problems. I was really excited!11008793_714451911831_8719257411067050066_n.jpg

This election has shattered what was left of my bubble. I am from a small town, but I had lived for years in Spain and moved to a blue bubble in a red state. I was surrounded by people who were affirming my views that Donald Trump was not the right person to lead our country. I did not think it would happen. The whole time, I was not seeing or hearing how scared people of color, immigrants, refugees, LBGTQ people were. My whiteness allowed me to skirt by those issues. I was not actively ignoring it, but I still was not hearing it. That all changed on November 9. I have had to engage with a country I now know is deeply racist. Most of all, white people—white women, even—voted for a racist, sexist, homophobic person instead of thinking about others. What they said to marginalized people was, “I just don’t care about you.”

With Trump’s announcement that he plans to deport 3 million “illegals,” I have begun to reflect on the whole process of immigration. Mario, a white European, had many great advantages in his immigration process: he is married to me, he’s white, he’s Western European, he has a university degree, etc. I thought then that the process would be relatively easy and straightforward.

It wasn’t. It took us a year and a half and over $3,000 to do it all—and that’s without the help of lawyer. I am a native English speaker and I’m pretty good at researching things on the Internet. I also have a university degree.

It wasn’t “easy” for us. But it wasn’t necessary either. We chose to get married, we chose to live in Spain, and we chose to come back to the U.S. There was no necessity; we were not in danger in any way. For most of the immigrants and refugees in the U.S., especially the undocumented, there is no “choice.” They move to protect their families, to seek a country that will allow them to enough money to support themselves or their families, or some other reason.

In some small ways, I understand the struggle of immigration. However, I will never understand what my colleague with an undocumented mother is going through. Right now, she is fearful that, one day, she will go home to find her mother gone, never to return. I am frightened for the future of our country, the country to which we decided to move in January of 2014. I wonder sometimes if, had we known about Trump’s victory, would we have moved here? Maybe not. But then, we always had a choice.

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9 thoughts on “Why Don’t They Just Apply for Citizenship?

  1. I was just talking about this with my neighbor here in Benalmadena, he’s at university now and speaks English quite well, and is technically white, but dark haired and bearded. He really wants to go to the United States after graduation. I’m afraid that they would treat him badly. Thinking him either as a Mexican because he speaks Spanish, or a Muslim because of his beard. It’s horrible, but my own husband, being a fair haired Englishman, would have way less hassles, even lacking a university degree!

  2. I am very sorry that you are going through that. From what I see people are not treating each other any differently than they did on November 7th. Consider that the reason Donald Trump was elected President might not be that our country is prejudiced, or homophobic, or any other idiom that may be used but very tired of worrying about how we are going to support our families. Sure immigration is a hot button but it’s not really the issue. The issue is that we are shipping our manufacturing jobs away from the United States which leaves many families with out an income. We are taking such drastic measures to protect our planet that we are destroying the livelihood of many parts of our country. Just like immigrants who come to our country for a better life and to protect their families we are struggling to protect ours. Unfortunately, even with all of his flaws, and there are many, Donald Trump spoke to the Americans that are getting left behind, or have college degrees but cannot find work. Spain is actually in some small way suffering the same fate. No real good jobs for young people so they are leaving and going to other EU countries. It is a sad state but the reality that we live in today.

  3. As a black person living in the U. S. and who sees and feels the effects of racism if not a daily basis but enough to know that not everyone is created equally, it’s not shocking that I live in a “deeply racist country.” And, I kind of had a feeling of who might win. As person who lives in “a blue bubble in a [southern] red state,” I just was not surprised. If he didn’t win any other electoral votes, I knew for sure he was going to win the few from my own state. However, what shocked me is the utter racist vitriol that is present in middle and high schools and of course on college campuses and the sheer number of racist and anti-Semitic incidents that are happening all across the country as a direct result of this election. He won…great for those who voted for him but there is no need to make it seem like this is the second coming of Jim Crow-a period in which my own mother came of age. Too many people have fought and died for civil rights and no one is going to take it lying down again.

  4. Thank you for writing this! I’ve seen that question around FB too lately.

    And I was in a weird little bubble too. I had a couple friends who I thought were being a little alarmist about DT actually winning. Boy was I wrong.

  5. I had no idea about the extent of the racism in this country. And I think the chump saw his opportunity with the birther movement (blech-the ultimate racism) and championed it. Many, many people detested having a black president and that just magnified over the last eight years. So the chump swooped in and went after those voters. And that’s just one piece of this election. One other of course was how he went after those who hate Hillary. Calling her crooked and having his crowd chant “lock her up” was just plain awful. His supporters calling for her execution?? My God. He has incited violence so it’s not surprising all the incidents we’re seeing all across the country. He said he wanted to be president for all Americans? Okay man, show it now. Denounce the hate you’ve unleashed!!! Of course he won’t. He probably owes money to Putin and he saw this as a money making scheme. There’s a reason he didn’t show us his taxes, yet another unprecedented thing this election season. He denied even knowing Putin and yet here was Putin admitting that yep, he was in contact with the chump’s campaign. The chump denied that as well. That last disgusting move by Comey did her in. Our media didn’t help either, focusing on the email NON scandal instead of all the many TRUE scandals of the chump. I could go on and on and sorry I got off the main theme of your post: immigration. There are so, so many more issues…..as I’m sure you know. I wonder how long it will be until his supporters realize that they’ve been conned….a ver…..

  6. I am so sorry that you guys have to go through this. I don’t really know what it is like to go through this. I have lived in the US my whole life, but on the other hand, I still don’t think that it is right what Trump’s plans are. I feel like if anyone whats to come to the US and have a better life for them are their families they should be allowed to. I mean it is a free country and people should be free no matter what your race is. I have a friend that moved here last year that had a hard time getting into the school that she wanted, because of it and now she said that she might have to go back home. I feel like this is crap. Again I’m so sorry that you are going through this.

  7. I really love your last line here, “we always had a choice.” It’s shocking to think about my own privilege sometimes, how many choices I have that others simply have never had available to them. Even in my most difficult moments, I have never had to through even a tiny percentage of what many desperate immigrants are willing to in order to have a better life, to live with less persecution and poverty. I like that you’re admitting the advantages you’ve had in a field that many seem to think is equal to all.

    I was definitely in the same liberal bubble you were, and now that it’s popped I’m trying to figure out my own ways to fight what seems to be happening.

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