Doan Chung-Hernandez

The blog about the life of Doan

Archive for the ‘ San Antonio ’ Category

American Citizen

American Citizen

It’s official, I’m finally a citizen of the United States of America and it feels phenomenal. If nothing else amazing happens this year I wouldn’t be at all disappointed because this is definitely a big one for me.

Citizen

American Citizen

I called the INS recently because my 3rd application was still pending. Just knowing I have to deal with the INS leaves me with a feeling of apprehension and anxiety. It’s such a stressful situation to be in, especially for me and every time I get off the phone with them I dispise them even more and I’m left in tears. You know when you feel like nothing ever goes right for you and no matter what you do shit just keeps on fucking up. Well that’s the way the INS has been for me. And even then it’s just one of those things I know I have to deal with and just get through, like taxes. So it was on my to do list and finally when all was checked off and the only thing left on the to do list was call the INS I had no choice but to adhere. Like I said my application was still pending and I was calling to inquire about the status. In December I sent in a birth certificate along with an English translation for it, a letter from the translator, my mom, stating that the translation was true and another letter from myself stating why my parents wedding certificate was not included because they had asked for that as well but I was unable to deliver it because it was destroyed in the Vietnam War. So after talking to Maria, the officer handling my case, she made me feel as though there was no way around not having it and that my only option was to travel back to Vietnam to retrieve it, but in the mean time she would consult her supervisor on the matter. So again I was left in tears. First off, how can I travel to Vietnam to attempt to get a copy when I don’t have a passport; it’s not like I could leave the country. And second, when she read me her manual over the phone it even stated that a lot of marriage certificates were destroyed during the Vietnam War, which is exactly how my parents wedding certificate was destroyed, why they don’t have one and exactly what I told them. Maria said she would get back to my by the end of the week but to my surprise she called me back within the hour and asked my for my address so she could send me my certificate. I was dumbfounded at first; did I miss understand her but then her supervisor got on the phone, Patricia and said, “no forget the address can you come in tomorrow to come pick it up.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, “are you serious?” I responded and she snaps back, “I take my job very serious.” Well alright then. The next day Ray and I drove to San Antonio to retrieve my Certificate.

American Citizen

American Citizen

So your probably wondering why it took me 3 tries to attain citizenship. Well let my tell you why. I came into the states on November 2, 1981, when I was just two years of age. Becoming a citizen was the last of my worries because I was too busy being a regular American kid. Finally my parents became citizens when I was 17 years old, before I was 18 which means I officially became a citizen as well, but they were so excited that they didn’t take me in with them to take the oath. So when I turned 19 I applied for citizenship myself. It took them 3 freaking years to process my application only to be denied because I was arrested for shop lifting when I was 14 years young and according to the INS I can’t be approved for citizenship if I was arrested within 5 years of applying. Well if the stupid INS would of told me this when I did apply then all I had to do was to wait a few months then apply. So I get this news 3 years later at age 21. The shitty part is that I didn’t even had to tell them that I was arrested, they never would of found out, but I was just too intimidated so I played by their rules. Also, the INS should of just told me to apply for the N-600 instead which states that I’m a citizen through my parents, but the INS sucks and doesn’t like to help or make things easy for anyone. Years later I applied a again, and was denied yet a second time. This time they said it was because I was already a citizen of the United States through my parents. So while living in Hawaii I try to get a passport but was denied because they needed proof that I was a citizen and to get proof I have to resort back to the INS for a certificate that states that I am a citizen of the United States. So I apply this time for citizenship yet a 3rd time for the N-600 application, which states that I acquire citizenship through my parents. Should be a breeze right, since I got a letter from the INS themselves recognizing that I am already a citizen? Wrong. Nothing is easy when it comes to the INS, at least not for me. So they tell me that I must show my birth certificate and my parents wedding certificate to complete the application, the exact two items that I don’t have. “Go back to Vietnam and get it,” they tell me like it’s an easy trip down the street to Walmart. How, how the fuck do I go back to Vietnam and get it, and even if that were possible what normal non-citizen could just afford to do that. It’s like the hospital expecting me to pay 30 grand in a year. “The hospital will allocate you up to a year to pay off your bill,” they tell me. Really? Fuck you! Trust me, you have no idea of my frustrations. Not to mention, I’m the last of my family to become a citizen. My parents, my younger sister, because she was born in the U.S. and my two older sisters because they were both over 18 years old and had to apply on their own, the way I tried to on my first attempt and not to mention my husband is an American citizen, and English is my main language. Come on, sometimes rules should be bent because whoever invented them obviously missed a few things. Anyone can see that I’m as American as apple pie, just not as sweet. It’s just so gosh darn frustrating seeing people come into this country, don’t even speak a lick of English and become American citizens just like that. Something is obviously wrong with the system here. So that’s my story and now you can understand why this is so BIG for me and even now, after 11 days it’s just barely hitting me.

American Citizen

American Citizen

You know, when your already an American citizen as most of you are, you don’t think about all the privileges you have but when your not, like I use to be, you think about all the privileges you don’t have that should be rightfully yours all the time. The biggest thing for me was not being able leave the country because I was unable to attain a passport. The only reason I was able to go to China was because my parents were able to get me a re-entry permit from China. As handicapped as my parents are for having such broken English they sure do surprise the hell out of me with all the loop holes they manage to get their sneaky little hands on. Seriously, has anyone ever heard of a re-entry permit. I would not even know that exist or was at all possible and I wouldn’t know how to attain one from another country or if they even allow them. It was a pain in the ass going from China to Hong Kong back to China, the Chinese didn’t even know what it was. Well I can’t depend on good O’ mom and dad forever and just thinking about being stuck in one country for the rest of my life makes me hyperventilate. If I think too deeply into it I will want to ripe my skin off from claustrophobia. Now, I can leave the country and travel to my hearts desire or until the money runs out and not only that I can get a job and not worry about any complications, like being denied, having to show my alien card, not being able to get full benefits etc. I can finally change my name to Hernandez. The social security office denied me my name change because they wanted to see proof of citizenship, well now I have it. If I ever win the lottery or jack pot I don’t have to worry about being denied my winnings. I can vote, although I did anyways for Obama. If I ever get arrested at the airport, or anywhere for that matter I will be protected under the United State Laws. Yes! You see, this is the kind of stuff that I thought about, a lot and now I will never ever have to again and that is enough to make 2009 an awesome year.

When we got to the INS building they wouldn’t let us bring in any electronics, no phones or cameras. Bummer because I’ve been waiting over a decade for this moment and I wanted to document it. I always pictured it where I have to take an oath and maybe put my hand on the bible, even though I’m not religious and someone in uniform or a suit handing me my certificate, with the American flag waving in the background, I guess very similar to receiving a diploma. It didn’t happen like that at all. I was put to work as soon as I walked into the room, erasing the gloss on the side of all my photos so I could write my name on it because she was in a hurry to go home on her lunch break to consult with someone she paid to lay dirt on her house. However, my officer liked me so much she practically offered me a job, told me to apply on line @ USjobs.gov or something like that then she handed me my certificate and sent me on my way. I definitely didn’t happen as I had envisioned so Ray and I took the matter into our own hands. Since we were in San Antonio we headed down to the Alamo and took a shit ton of photos, as you can see, of me with my certificate in hand. I even asked the Alamo guards there to take a photo with me and to pretend like they were presenting the certificate to me.

American Citizen

American Citizen

After my pretend glorious ceremony we took a stroll down the River Walk, another one of San Antonio’s famous landmarks.

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

Ray bought me candy.

Delicious Food

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

And we had lunch at one of the several Mexican options we had to choose from.

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

When we got back to Austin Ray and I didn’t stop celebrating. We went to Banana Republic and got me a cardigan and blouse and even got Ray two pairs of slacks. Then we went to the Daily Grill and par-took in their happy hour and I splurged on dessert again.

American Citizen

American Citizen

I’m finally an American Citizen, can you believe it!