On December 4,2017 ,after 31 years of living in this beautiful and complicated country I became a U.S Citizen. My immigration story started off in small South American country, Peru in September of 1986. I actually spoke at Rabbit Box about it (the storytelling organization I’m involved in-here is the audio https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?feed=%2Frabbitbox%2Frb50-stranger-in-a-strange-land-immigration-stories-patricia-tacuri%2F&hide_cover=1&light=1 ) . It is your typical and not so typical immigration story. My family lived undocumented for 4 years and became permanent resident aliens on Dec. 4, 1990. Technically, my parents could have done the process when I was 14 ( there is a 5 year waiting period) but it is a very expensive and complicated process for them, plus, they are uncomfortable with the English part of testing for the naturalization test. I also could have filed for citizenship myself at 18 but being always low income, this seemed out of my reach. I kept putting it on New Year’s resolutions list since 2010 but it never got done and income tax return money got spent elsewhere. At this point, I had renewed my permanent alien card two times and of course kept telling myself that I need to become a U.S citizen but it never happened. To be honest, I didn’t care too much about politics. For example when G.W Bush was in office, I never felt the need to get too involved since his policies were not affecting me personally. I was your typical self centered 20 something year old. When Obama started running for office , my enthusiasm for politics grew. I cried tears of happiness at this inauguration. The added plus was that he was from Hawaii (one of the places I grew up in and cherish to this day). Of course, through those 8 years, I became more aware of the hatred America has towards people of color and immigrants. I had always been aware of discrimination and racism coming from a country that suffers from this plague. This time however, it was different. I have 3 multiracial children. My oldest son is half Peruvian, Filipino and White so he looks just like me. My two other children are half Peruvian and half white but look white. Throughout the Obama Administration; I started hearing more news about the Tea Party and cops shooting innocent kids. At the same time this was happening, my oldest son started to be bullied because of his disability and race. He took it in stride while I wanted to punch someone. When your child is called “border jumper” by a classmate and harrassed by bigger kids at the shower in gym, it makes you angry that the protective bubble you built around him is bursting. Still, I didn’t do anything to change my citizenship status because I was still content.
The year was 2015 when by chance my son introduced me to this organization called ULead which is an organization that provides resources to underdocumented/ DACAmented/first generation high school students in the Athens area. Going there and interacting with these inspiring kids, I had to acknowledge just how privileged I was to be able to be in this country legally. That was also the year that Donald Trump was running for president. As everyone knows, he attacked various groups of people including minorities and people with disabilities. In my mind, I kept thinking surely America is not dumb enough to elect this racist and ignorant man . Then the November election came and I was devastated along with the majority of the country. My anxiety and depression went into overload and I could hardly function some day . I knew I had to do something so I got more involved with the community organization in Athens. I felt a lot of guilt for being part of the problem and not getting my citizenship in time to vote. I even went naively to the Women’s March naively thinking I was making a difference. It was amazing in a way but it wasn’t enough.
My mom told me about a waiver fee for low income permanent resident aliens to become naturalized citizen. I looked into it around February and applied for the waiver along with my naturalization application. I was approved within a couple of months for the waiver and went for my biometrics in April. In September I was suppose to go for my interview and test but it was called off for Hurricane Irma. Finally, I was rescheduled for November and took the oath on a chilly December day in Atlanta. It was surreal to stand with 88 people from 39 different countries. Throughout the whole process, I had mixed feelings about it. It was hard every day waking up in a country that doesn’t seem welcoming to you and your family and friends. It was hard taking an oath to a country that seems to deny you acceptance and punish you for your otherness. It was hard to keep going through the process when DACA was being repealed and so many of the inspiring dreamers were being put at risk for deportation. Like them, my parents brought me to this country at a young age. Like them, their parents came to this country living everything behind to give them a better life.