The cynical side of me is always a bit put off by the naturalization ceremonies that USCIS conducts around the country. I have so many clients fighting, struggling and waiting to swear their allegiance to the U.S. So when I see these ceremonies on TV where everyone waves a little flag and immigration is painted as this easy-peasy process, it bothers me.
Of course, I am happy for any client (or non-client) who reaches the top of the immigration ladder - naturalized U.S. citizen. I just think these ceremonies make it appear as if America is bestowing this great gift on people and we do it because we are such a benevolent, generous country. Fact is, immigration is a rock fight and the immigration service doesn't give out any gifts.
Example 1 - on the Fourth, President Obama welcomed 25 service men and women to the White House 4th of July barbecue. These particular military members are unique because they enlisted in the armed forces BEFORE they became U.S. citizens. This is pretty remarkable. People willing to risk life and limb for the chance of becoming U.S. citizens and helping our country at the same time.
Obviously, it is a great photo opportunity for Mr. Obama and the immigration service. The President rightfully recognizing the sacrifice of these wonderful soldiers. I get it.
But part of it rings a bit hollow to me. Is this not like a Stephen King novel where we dangle citizenship out there for people to come and get by "volunteering" to serve in the armed forces? Are we not playing on people's desperation?
I'm not saying that's what it is for sure, I'm just asking the question.
Example 2 - I have attended many naturalization ceremonies. I have even been asked to speak at a few. And they are very nice ceremonies. But the 4th of July celebrations just seem like pageantry, like window dressing. USCIS acts as if everything is fine, the agency works properly and here we have these nice people from around the world that we are welcoming to our wonderful "melting pot." It just rings hollow for me.
Of course, the other part of this is the fact that when it comes to immigration, America is in crisis. We have a Congress that won't act, employers who can't hire the people that they want to hire and 11 million people in the country that no one wants to deal with.
We have a President who can't make up his mind on immigration - does he want to remain Deporter in Chief or does he want to ease up on the hurried pace of deportation?
Children refugees are flocking towards our border to escape poverty, civil war and violence in their home countries. The U.S. is paralyzed with fear and doesn't know what to do.
It is going to take more than a few little flags waving at the Old Courthouse to fix our deep seeded immigration problems.