As many TF members know, I was born in Germany and that I'm a German citizen. I currently reside in California, and have for most of my life. Still, my family retains its culture, language, and German citizenship. Over the past few years, several of my family members have applied for US citizenship (or dual citizenship.) First was my eldest brother, then about two years ago my mom applied, and yesterday my father had his interview for citizenship. Both of my parents are retaining their German citizenship, and are just adding the US citizenship on top of it.
Now, the issue of citizenship has always been a point of contention for me. I knew that I didn't want to get rid of my German citizenship, but I wasn't sure if I'd want to get US citizenship as well. There are several reasons for my feelings. One of which is the "trouble" of getting the US citizenship. No, I don't care about any test- I'm pretty well-versed in US history and governmental workings, so that wouldn't be a problem. Dealing with the INS (or ICE as I believe it's called now) is a completely different story.
Around 2 or 3 years ago I had to renew my greencard with the US because it was going to expire. Since I was planning on being in Germany for the summer, I didn't want to have trouble getting back in to the US, neccessitating the renewal. I wont say to which INS office we went, but it doesn't matter: it's a government instituation. Since this is only sort of a tangent I'll sum up the experience quickly: long periods of discomfort without adequate facilities, food, or water, and all the while being heckled by the employees. Without going in to the wretched details, I'll say that it's very unpleasant. This, and past previous experiences made me never want to deal with the INS again- this didn't make me want a US citizenship more.
As many of you know, there are a lot of people who want US citizenship, but have a hard time getting it. There's $$$ involved, time, political factors, and a number of other hurdles in your way to becoming a citizen. All of this makes what has happend to me all the more ironic:
Yesterday, at my father's interview with the INS, his interviewer is talking to him, "I see your wife applied for citizenship two years ago... What about Jonathan?" After some paper-shuffling, the interviewer told my dad that I ALREADY AM a citizen; I apparently gained US citizenship 2 years ago when my mother was given citizenship (a few months AFTER my INS experience) since I was a minor at the time.
Now aint that somethin'?
There's people in this country, struggling to get citizenship. And then little ol' me who is contemplating not getting US citizenship at all gets it by default. Then there's the factor that I've been a US citizen for two years and NOT KNOWN ABOUT IT. I could have voted in the last congressional elections. Nobody ever bothered to tell us that I would become a citizen by default. I'm happy enough, though.
The morale of the story: Well, there's plenty. Beauraucracy in the US can be painful. The easiest way to get citizenship in this country is to not want it. The interviewer may have been wrong and all this fuss is for nothing. Any other number of strange morals apply.
All I know is thank heavens that even as a resident with a greencard I had to sign up for the selective services, otherwise I would have been a US citizen (from a foreign country, too!) above the age of 18 who hadn't signed up for slective services- not something you want on your record! lol
Just thought I'd share my curious story with you, sorry it's sort of jumbled.