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Policy: Immigration

Becoming an American citizen, with her fingers crossed

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Beltway Confidential,Immigration,United Kingdom,Analysis,Charles Hoskinson

Meet the newest poster child for the anti-immigration crowd: Ruth Walker, a British-born employee of the federal government, who became a U.S. citizen last week after living in this country for 26 years.

The naturalization process apparently was traumatic for her because she promptly trashed it in a sarcastic op-ed published Sunday in Britain's left-wing Guardian newspaper, entitled: "My bizarre experience becoming a 'naturalized' American citizen."

"This bizarrely archaic piece of ceremony seemed to bear no relationship to reality, and to leave no room for freedom of religion, freedom of speech for those who opposed war, or loyalty to the country of our birth, whether legal or emotional," she wrote.

"We pledged allegiance to the American flag, which apparently stands for 'liberty and justice for all,' trying not to think of those many citizens and other human beings who had been arbitrarily deprived of these in this country. Paranoid that there might be hidden cameras watching us, I reluctantly mouthed the words with my fingers crossed in my pocket."

She mentions a speech by a "young man in a rumpled suit" who recounted "a long story involving fleas and barracudas. The point of this parable was not clear, but involved a comparison of us in our pre-citizen, untamed state, with these creatures."

Interesting reaction, though I'd guess that someone less paranoid might think the barracudas had something to do with the young man perhaps having come to the United States from Cuba on a raft. Just sayin'.

Having read this far, you're probably wondering whether Walker regrets having become an American. Judge for yourself:

"Any sentiment I might have had about finally being a citizen, with the right to vote, access to benefits, and the ability to cross the border without suspicion, had been vaporised by the condescending tone of the whole event. My partner and I left the courthouse as fast as we could without arousing the suspicion that we had set a time bomb, and set off for the nearest bar."

I'm betting lots of people who read her op-ed will regret it.

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