01-30-2017, 12:51 AM
Yes. I also have two friends who spent decades going through all the steps to become a US citizen. In both cases, the bureaucracy involved was utterly time-consuming and horribly daunting.
My friend Phi came over from Kampuchea (now Cambodia) in the 1970s. He was a refugee, and had been tortured by the Khmer Rouge. (Among other things, they placed bamboo sticks between his fingers and then bound his hands tightly; he once demonstrated this for me, and I was glad it was only for a few minutes). He fled a forced-labor camp and was almost killed by a US serviceman near what he now believes was the Laos/Vietnam/Kampuchea border. But he was accepted as a refugee, and came to America. He's now a doctor (M.D.), and spends much of his time overseas helping refugees. He's received awards from the Vatican for his selflessness in helping others. Although he spent eight years in medical school, he told me two years ago that the process of becoming a doctor was far easier than becoming a U.S. citizen. That is fucked up!
My friend Sylvia came to the US in 1968, from Mexico. She said as a schoolgirl in Mexico, she didn't even own shoes; her family came to America for a better life. She studied, and became a cataloging librarian in the 1970s, and she worked in some of the most prestigious libraries in the country while waiting to fully become a citizen, but she didn't actually become a US citizen until 2010. While waiting, she got married, had children, and even grandchildren. She said the process went at a snail's pace for years and years, in part because the bureau lost her application or proof of continuous residence multiple times. But she never gave up, and now there is a photo of her in my office, proudly waving the American flag, on the day she finally became an American.