By: Steve Todd
As of June, 2016, I am now a naturalized citizen of the United States of America! This was a decision that took several years to decide to do, but I’m now very thankful that I went through the process and earned this new title.
Being born and raised in England, I had always been a loyal British subject, yet since a child, I had dreamed of coming to America. In 2000, I met my wife to be, who lived in Texas. We were both very interested in family history and at one point, we thought there was a possibility that our mothers descended from the same families. Further research proved otherwise, but regardless, we continued to enjoy exploring our family’s history and as far as our relationship, well, one could say, “the rest became history!”
After living in England for several years, my wife thought it best that we move back to the states, so we packed our bags and we’ve now been living back here in Texas for 10 years. Recently I realized the time was nearing when I would need to either renew my green card or apply for citizenship. When checking into this, I found that it was going to be a lengthy process, requiring me to fill in many pages of paperwork, sending in a check to cover the cost of everything as well as then studying U.S. history and government. My wife, being a former history teacher, was most helpful with some of the questions, but even she struggled with some of the government questions! Fortunately, I was sent a CD with the 100 questions and answers that I was able to play in my car to and from work. That was most helpful and it didn’t take me long to start getting all of the answers correct.
Meanwhile, during my waiting period, I had to go to Fort Worth for my biometrics. I thought that would involve more than it did, but with few waiting ahead of me in the office, I was able to get that task completed within 20 minutes. I was told I’d hear a date and time for my interview and test. After a few months wait, I finally received my letter. I felt very well prepared and as this process turned out, I passed with flying colors! Next would be my ceremony, and I heard back on that date within a month later. Although nervous at first, everything went just fine. I’ve always been so impressed with how patriotic Americans are in this country. You can just imagine how proud and honored I felt at my ceremony to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the Star Spangled Banner as a new citizen of the United States of America!
With all the opportunities for a better life for themselves and their families, it’s easy to understand why there are so many illegal immigrants in this country. What I don’t understand is why the government seems to turn a blind eye to them being here. Initially I had to pay a fee and go through a process of having an extensive medical exam, along with additional paperwork to fill out in order to legally live and work in the United States. I did all of this back in England before entering the U.S. so I knew I had met all necessary requirements. Although this process took several months to complete, along with two visits to the Embassy in London, I did go through all the proper channels to insure I would be a legal permanent resident once stepping foot on American soil. Now, ten years later my time had come to make yet another important decision to become an American citizen. I had yet another process to go through, which took a total of 5 months from the time I applied until my ceremony. Yes, I did have to pay a fee of several hundred dollars, but I l wanted to do things the right way. That in itself, contributed to my feeling of honor to become an American citizen. I felt I was strictly scrutinized, by the Department of Naturalization and Immigration, at my interviews. I also had to pass a background check, which was carefully reviewed. Now, to see our government allow all of these illegal immigrants to come into the country without having to go through any sort of background checks or interviews, I feel is grossly wrong. It’s also upsetting to me as well, because if these illegals are that eager to get into this country because they know it’s much better than where they live, then I believe they should be forthcoming with personal information about themselves and their families upon entering the United States.
Yes, I will always love England; my homeland. My memories of being raised there will never leave me and my wife and I have shared even more memories together of traveling around nearly the whole UK. But life moves on and now not only can I say, “God Save the Queen,” but it is with great pride that I now hold my right hand over my heart and pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America!