Tuesday, June 2, 2009

They can't deport you no more. (Almost.)

Woohoo! Just completed my naturalization/citizenship interview. Amazingly painless. I got in at 8:10 for an 8:20 appointment, and I was out of there by 9:00. One of the reasons I put off applying for citizenship for so long was the dread of dealing with what I had known to be an agency that moves in slow motion. Up until my fingerprinting a couple of months ago, I'd never had a visit to immigration that didn't take away at least half my day. I guess things may have actually changed. Who knew? If I had known, I would've applied much sooner.

And the whole process itself has been far more abbreviated than I'd expected. I sent in my application in late January of this year. A little over four months later, I've already wrapped up the interview. According to my adjudication officer, I can expect to be sworn in about a month from now. Just amazing. I'll abstain from critizing the inefficiencies of federal bureacracies for at least a month.

Until last night, I hadn't bothered opening up the citizenship study guide they gave me a couple of months ago after the fingerprinting. I've lived here long enough. I should know my stuff, no? Well, I got a bit anxious when I started flipping through the booklet of 100 possible questions. There are some hard ones, like:

1. How many amendments are there to the Constitution? (27. I got plenty on the dormant commerce clause in law school, but this they didn't teach me.)

2. In what year was the Constitution written? (1787. Good thing I read up, because this one got asked.)

3. What is one of the powers given to the federal government by the Constituion? (I would've said the right to regulate interstate commerce, but that wasn't one of the answer choices in the booklet. Good thing it wasn't asked. I may have gotten booted for getting into a meaningless debate with the interviewer.)

As I sat in the waiting room and looked around, I could sense the excitement and anticipation that many of those around me felt about their eminent prospects of becoming citizens. And I imagined that my parents probably felt the same before their interviews. But I couldn't muster any enthusiasm, because I viewed the process as rather perfunctory given all my years of living, essentially, as an American.

Yet after I completed the interview, a broad smile shoved aside my nonchalant ways and overtook the stoic expression on my face, for I realized that I would soon be a citizen ... finally.

Or maybe it was even more profound than that. Maybe, just then, I subsconsciously harkened memories of November 2008. I had prepared for the possibility that the interviewer might ask me why I'd waited so long to apply for citizenship. I was going to tell him that I hadn't felt compelled until the recent presidential election, when the frustration of sitting on the sidelines during a momentus occasion made me feel ashamed for not having done what was necessary to be a participant. He didn't ask, but I answered to myself anyway as I walked away.

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