The stakes in 2020’s Presidential election are higher than in any election of the previous century. Since Donald Trump became President, he has systematically begun to dismantle an orderly US Immigration system in favor of an inept, undermanned apparatus for the purpose of preventing companies, families and individuals from obtaining immigration benefits legally. Quite plainly, Mr. Trump is a bigot, xenophobe and reality-show alarmist, who has ridden the fears and hate of the ignorant to White House. While his success surprised pundits and the public alike, the threat of this hate-mongering racist winning a second term is very real and must be stopped at all costs.
This means that any greencard holder who may be eligible to become a citizen and does not believe that “all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers” and that the US should “deport all 11 million illegal aliens,” and “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it,” are doing their family members, neighbors and themselves a disservice by not naturalizing and voting. Elections are fundamentally about numbers. The candidate with the most votes wins. Those who believe the US IS great already and that acceptance and inclusion make more sense than scapegoating and exclusion must do everything in their power to vote against Trump.
It is often said that the US is “Nation of Immigrants.” Citizenship, however, is the common thread that connects all Americans. The framers of the US Constitution made clear that the country was to be bound not by race or religion, but by the shared values of freedom, liberty, and equality. In this election year, these very freedoms are at stake more than any other time since perhaps World War II. Rampant xenophobia, racism and intolerance have been central messages of Trump’s campaign. One of the most important benefits of US Citizenship is the right to vote. Voting, however, is not simply a right to use if one wishes. It is a responsibility. This year, all eligible immigrants should Naturalize and all citizens should vote to elect a President whose policies and critical appointments will reflect our great nation’s true values and not serve to divide our people based on xenophobia and hatred.
To be eligible for Naturalization, an applicant must generally establish that he has been continuously present in the US as a lawful permanent resident (“Green Card Holder”) for at least five years (three years if also married to a United States Citizen for at least three years) preceding the application, has been a person of good moral character for that same period and is not subject to removal from the US. Certain “mistakes,” e.g. criminal convictions, may affect eligibility; however, some will be of little or no significance. To meet the “continuous physical presence” requirement an applicant must establish that he has been in the US at least half of the total time during the required period. Absences of more than six months but less than one year raise a presumption that the chain of residency has been severed. Absences of more than one year will usually be found to break the chain of residence.
Becoming a US Citizen offers many benefits and equally important responsibilities. Citizens enjoy the right to vote in elections for public officials, the right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship, the right to run for elected office and the freedoms of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” US Citizens can petition their married sons and daughters and brothers and sisters for green cards, a benefit that is not available to green card holders, and also accord certain immigrant applicants for waivers of inadmissibility a preferred status based on the relationship.
The core of our democracy is the right to vote and the right to vote for the President of the United States is perhaps the most powerful right we citizens have. The President is responsible for implementing and executing the laws of the US and policies affecting all people in the United States, including those struggling to obtain lawful status and raise their families in the United States. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is one such extension of executive power that has allowed thousands of young students to attain the “dreams” and go on to college and become productive members of society. The President also appoints public officials to fulfill critical roles in preserving our democratic way of life, including US Supreme Court Justices. Our great country cannot afford to elect a President who will implement Un-American, racist and frankly unwise policies, such as “deporting all undocumented immigrants” or “repealing” the original DACA Program, as Trump has attempted to do already. Our great country cannot afford to elect a President who will nominate Supreme Court justices that will decide cases based on a narrow-minded politically-driven ideology, as opposed to fundamental fairness and the rule of law.
Next year, US Citizens who vote can choose whether we want a racist, intolerant demagogue to continue to take us backward, or a President who will lead us into a new era of liberty, happiness and prosperity. Anyone who may be eligible to naturalize as a US Citizen and “Stump Trump” should consult with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to evaluate their eligibility to naturalize and participate in this great democratic tradition. There is still time!