Sunday, July 17, 2011

E. T. Is Home by Margaret Ullrich

Last week I wrote about being an immigrant kid.

Trust me, it's a lot easier being an immigrant adult.

As a child, you really have no say in where you live.
Or in how your new country regards you.
Or in how your native-born classmates treat you.
Or in what paperwork your parents fill out for you.

Combine the confusion over who you are with the usual crap that happens as you pass from infancy through childhood and adolescence, and it can get pretty stressful.


I don't know if it would've been any easier if Pop had paid the $10 so I could've 
been a naturalized American citizen.

I guess I wouldn't have felt confused when we had to pledge allegiance to the American flag every morning.
I always felt like I was lying.
I mean, I wasn't planning anything violent.
I was a pretty well-behaved kid.
Usually on the honor roll.
I just knew it wasn't quite the truth for me.

I liked America well enough.
Well, except for the annual Alien Registration form.
That was a little annoying.
But I knew I'd been born a British subject and still was a British subject.


A big part of American History is about beating the English.
Taxation without representation.
Yadda, yadda, yadda....
Yeah, American taxes are represented.
That really is helping their government pay their bills right now.


Americans are also big on citizenship.
Native-born citizenship.
I, along with Arnold Schwartzenegger, could never be president.
You have to be born in the USA for that job.
Remember when Donald Trump wanted to check out Obama's birth certificate?
Americans really believe: once a foreigner, always a foreigner.


Okay, back to being an adult immigrant.

July 1 seems to be my day for moving.
Maybe it's some kind of Karma.
July 1, 1950 my parents were getting packed to move to America.
July 1, 1952 we moved to College Point.
July 1, 1972 Paul and I crossed the border into Canada.
July 1, 1988 we moved into our present home.

I've lived in this house longer than I've lived anywhere else in my whole life.
It's home.
I'm settled.
And yes, I'm a Canadian citizen.


Speaking about Obama's birth certificate reminded me....
Pop passed away on the day Obama was being sworn in as president.
My mother wanted me to fly down for his funeral.

Thanks to the post 9/11 American policy, I needed a passport to enter the States.
I didn't have one.
I still hated crossing the border.
The American border guard always asked, "Where were you born?"
It was just easier to vacation in Canada.


A relative had insisted they'd understand this was an emergency.
I called the airport.
The clerk tried to be helpful.
"Oh, your family is in New York.  Are you an American citizen?"
"No."
"Were you born there?  Were you an American citizen?"
"No."
"That's too bad."


Maybe if Pop had paid the $10....
Well, who knew?

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