It’s been 4 years since I took an oath to become an American citizen. I took an oath specifically to Trump which makes me nauseous typing BUT I also took an oath because of Trump. Before making the decision to become an American citizen, I had never really cared about politics but that was until Trump got elected. If you were a POC or immigrant or both, you felt the shift in the racial tension in the U.S right before the election but especially after the election. Racists overtly made their ignorant beliefs known that immigrants were not welcomed in this country. DACA was in the process of being repealed. DACAmented kids who should have been protected were being deported and there was a rise in deportation for undocumented immigrants as well or well the media made it seem like that. I felt that as an immigrant with LPR (legal permanent resident) status, I could possibly be next. In February of 2016, I sent my paperwork to USCIS to solidify my relationship with America. One could say that for better or worse, I finally decided to make a commitment to this country. Here is my blog post about the process:

https://rejectingstagnationafter.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/becoming-a-citizen-in-the-age-of-trump/

What has changed in the past 4 years since becoming an American and what does being American mean to me now?

Well, I’ve voted in 2 elections since I’ve become an American including the national election in 2020 (yay, no more Trump). In October of this year, I applied for my passport and have received it. Now, I can take a trip out of the country without any worries or concerns. While it is an immense privilege to be an American citizen since I  now have a whole new world of opportunities opened up and I can travel anywhere; I feel that I haven’t really changed on the inside. I still see myself and identify as an immigrant  but now I also call myself an American. But to be honest, my idea of being an American has changed. I used to think I needed a piece of paper to say “Oh, I’m American” but  for better or worse, America is and has been ingrained in me since that hot September day in 1986 when I set my foot on American soil at the age of 5.

I was an American when every morning at school I would say the Pledge of Allegiance in my broken and terrible English at the age of 6 and 7.

Little Immigrant Eliza
me in 1987

I was an American when I went back to Peru at age 9 to get my resident alien status solidified with my family.

I am America
me at age 9 in Peru during my trip with my family to get our LPR status

I was an American when I met my childhood best friends in Hawaii at age 11.

I am America
me with one of my childhood best friends from Hawaii

I was an American when I had my babies at ages 17, 24, and 30.

I am America
me with my three kids right after their births

I was American when I started working for the government at the age of 18.

I am America
me at the age of 18 in 1999 working for the government

I was an American when I got my college degree in 2009 from the University of Georgia .

I am America
me in 2009 with my parents at my graduation from college

I was an American in 2016 and early 2017 when I attended protests and marches for immigrant and women’s rights.

I am America
me in January of 2017 at the Women’s March in Washington D.C

And I was an American when people told me, “my english is good for being a Mexican” or I’ve been discriminated against or oppressed in this country by the people that don’t want “my kind” here.

I used to believe that I didn’t belong here because of the racism, prejudice, and ignorance I’ve encountered but that’s no longer the case. This year, I finally let go of those beliefs because I’ve embraced that I am America and America is me. My life may have been harder in many aspects because I wasn’t the average “American born” citizen but I will tell you that I wouldn’t trade my experience as an American to be average. I I feel that working harder than the “average American” for my success has made me appreciate my success so much more and for that I am thankful. My parents had no idea of the many hardships they would endure making the decision to immigrate to this country but I am glad they made that journey. It’s taken me 35 years to get here but today I can honestly say that I’m proud to be an American. 

I am America
me in November of 2021 telling my crazy story about being an essential worker

 

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