Monday, May 16, 2011

New Americans Proud, Dept Homeland Security Americans Not So Much

An account from a reader, about citizenship. He is a citizen; his spouse, Alician, has a green card and has finally qualified for full U.S. citizenship. (No, Alician is not her real name). I have inserted some comments in [ ] branckets.

[A while ago ] at 5pm Alician got a call from the gubmint. Homeland Security said that they finally found her file [misplaced for six weeks! No explanation...] and to show up at 3pm the next day at the [regional] office, to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen. We showed up at 3 and were herded into a windowless conference room with about 20 other people. I started to think this was a set-up and everyone was going to be handcuffed and led onto a bus [or maybe a "shower"?].

But then a clearly bored "official" turned on the dvd player and left. We watched a 20 minute video showing pictures of 19th century immigrants while inspiring piano music played. After that another video began, which consisted of more pictures of immigrants with "I'm proud to be an American" as the soundtrack...the entire song!
[If you want the experience, here is the Lee Greenwood video...]

I think DHS saw this as their last chance to torture foreigners before they become citizens. After that video ended nothing happened, no actual person was around, and so we waited half an hour. Eventually, some soon to be ex-immigrant showed the entrepreneurial spirit [and that's why we need immigrants!] and flagged someone down to point out that we were all waiting to be sworn in.

Finally a woman showed up looking completely flustered and proceeded muy rapidamente to give the oath and pass out certificates. Then we were told to leave, quite abruptly. I think she was too busy not processing paperwork to be interrupted from not swearing in new citizens. Balancing the not-doing of all that work has to be pretty stressful.

So: After over five years, thousands of dollars in fees (as it's not supposed to cost the taxpayers any $), and hundreds of documents, it came down to this... "Would you just take your pathetic certificate and leave? We don't really have time for this, and we don't have any more awful videos to show you. We certainly don't have time to say anything, because then you would see we ourselves don't believe in all this patriotism crap. We at DHS actually hate Americans."

I felt bad for the people in uniform [a number of U.S. soldiers were gaining their citizenship for the first time] and from war-torn countries. They should have been treated better on their first day as U.S. citizens. Alician had the perfect one-word description: "Graceless." Still, she actually is proud to be an American, even if those DHS folks aren't.

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