The process of gaining citizenship
It takes over 17 pages of paperwork, official documents, and at least one interview to become a citizen. Needed are birth certificates of the candidate and birth certificates of parents, plus the ability to speak English. U.S. history for English and Civics testing lies ahead. There are voting registrations, taxpayer forms. All of it can earn the certificate bordered in white, black, and gray with the words “The United States of America” handed to the individual at a naturalization ceremony. It’s the process to be part of the whole, to be part of the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Just five years ago, Theresa*, who graduated from PRHS in 2014, began this process for legal residence through her father. She had begun to apply for permanent residence around the time she was five, but she turned 15 before she got the green light and the green card.
“The [green card] process took about 10 years,” she said. “It consisted of many trips to Los Angeles and about four court meetings with a lawyer.”
Like Theresa, over 20 PRHS students statistically hide out of fear and embarrassment the fact that they are undergoing the permanent residency process–which allows individuals to live and work in the U.S. but not vote or work in government jobs.
Statistics show that several Bearcats among the student body hide the fact they are undergoing another process in which they will not be granted legal residence above one that grants two benefits under the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Those students as young as 15 must have entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.
Theresa is now 20 years old and plans to apply for citizenship when she turns 21, and has already started to get informed.
Many others like Theresa this year will begin the naturalization process with filling out the naturalization eligibility worksheet available on the USCIS.gov website and other steps described AT RIGHT.
For Theresa, the process will have to start when she turns 21. She is waiting until she the six year eligibility mark is reached. She is ready for it, though. She faced court lawyers five years to reach residency–they asked her how residency would benefit her. She explained then that she wanted to study and become more than she would have in Mexico.