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Why Is Being a Citizen So Important?

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While a majority of people living in America are natural-born United States citizens, millions of others are either Permanent Residents or undocumented immigrants. Although life in America is often a vast improvement from life in their country of origin, permanent residents will often learn that they face certain exclusions and restrictions because of their immigration status. However, it is much more challenging for families that are undocumented, because they basically have no benefits nor do they have peace of mind or any hopes for their future. This day in time it is very easy for us to point fingers and demand that these families “go back to where they came from,” without actually understanding what they go through on a daily basis.

There are a handful of benefits for United States citizens. They have the right to vote, they can run for public office, they are eligible for federal employment or benefits, they can travel wherever they want for however long they want. Best of all? They don’t have a fear of being deported. Some people think that permanent residents are able to do the same thing, which is a huge misconception. Permanent residents can still be vulnerable to possible deportation or loss of permanent resident status.

Even though they are living here legally, they still can’t have 100% peace of mind. Unlike undocumented people, PR can travel but they still have to come back to the States within a few months of leaving or their status can be revoked. Talk about freedom, huh? Unlike U.S citizens, if you are a Permanent resident who is still going to college, you cannot apply for a student loan. You either have to pray that you land a scholarship or have enough money to pay for college. Fair deal right? No! U.S citizens have a wider range of employment opportunities since nearly ALL government jobs are available to only U.S. citizens, and not permanent residents.

Even though this sounds really unfair, there are still a lot of opportunities for PR’s that undocumented immigrants can’t even dream of. In my opinion, I don’t believe that people just wake up one morning with the intention of moving to the States and over staying their welcome. Being an immigrant myself I understand what it’s like, and would like to shed some light on how the immigration system really operates here in the land of the free. Unless these families are crossing the border illegally, which is 100% wrong, they usually apply for a visit visa to come to the States.

After waiting months in line and spending a whole lot of money and if they are lucky and can contribute to our economy, they are granted a visa. If you want to visit America, and who doesn’t, you have to provide proof that you have either friends or family here who are law abiding citizens of the U.S. that you can stay with for 6 months. Otherwise, all the time and money you spent goes to waste. If you meet the criteria then you can start your long journey towards a possible citizenship process. Being granted a visa, and actually applying to be a United States Citizen is like comparing apples to oranges. It’s a very long and difficult process which some people cannot keep up with.

From the time you enter the States, you have a few months to settle down, get a job, an attorney that’s probably going to have a very expensive retainer, get your ID or DL made all while struggling to speak the English language. Oh, and don’t count on getting any guidance from the family friends you listed on your visa application, because they have no intention of doing so. You’re on your own buddy. Imagine dreaming to live in your favorite country because it has so much more to offer than your own motherland, but not having a single clue on where to start.

You ask around, and no one tells you that you only have a few months to apply for citizenship, otherwise you will be considered illegal? Let’s assume during that time, you end up getting pregnant. Now you’re running around with more responsibilities. It’s very hard to understand the complex immigration process when you don’t speak the language. How long do you try before you give up? You’re low on money, you probably have a bet down car that someone convinced you to buy, you can’t afford to pay an attorney, and you’re most likely working two jobs like my father did making less than minimum wage, because you don’t know what minimum wage even is.

People take advantage of you when you don’t get the jest of things. While you are so occupied trying day and night to make a life for yourself, you’re renewal deadline is coming up. Seems easy to do right? It’s the opposite of easy. In order to renew your visa, you have to go back to your country and apply again. That’s easier said than done. You’ve barley just got on your feet, you have a U.S born toddler, a full time job, you’re family depends on you but you have to leave everything and go back, with absolutely no guarantee you will be granted another visa. Oh, and don’t forget, you cannot take the U.S. born baby with you because she or he is a Citizen of this country and cannot stay outside of United States for more than six months; what happens if you’re not granted a visa. You’re basically kidnapping your own child. That’s the harsh reality. I speak with first-hand knowledge.

The immigration process is very difficult. When a mother and father are faced with so many challenges how long can they fight? Therefore, a lot of families end of overstaying for the betterment of their children, not themselves. Some of these families are not the problem. As time goes on, things get more and more complex. They cannot renew their DLs. They cannot vote. They have to live in fear of deportation over some of the smallest mishaps. If their child is getting bullied at school, they fear protesting because this is not their land. They don’t have a voice. They are scared. So millions of families tried coming the right way and tried doing the right thing but were not able to.

These families don’t want to go back. Why? They don’t want to go back because this is a land of opportunities. Somewhere down the road they will be able to apply for citizen. Question is… When? In a nutshell, a United States citizen who commits a crime cannot be deported but a green card holder may be removed; and an undocumented will be placed in deportation proceeds immediately. As a citizen you can have an easier travel and re-entry to the U.S. As a citizen, you have the ability to take long trips outside the United States. If you undocumented, your life becomes hell. I wanted to shed some light on this immigration issue so people can become a bit more educated on the difficulties these families face.

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