During this very patriotic celebration of the 4th of July permanent residents of the United States have a chance to consider initiating the process of becoming citizen. Citizenship comes with one very important right, and that right is the right to vote. And this is one of the most important rights for any citizen of any country in the world, and we see this even more clearly this year.
This year Latinos have been registering to vote in record numbers and this past February over 10, 000 came out to caucus in Iowa according to the NBC exit polls. But to many people these statistics are just numbers. Today we put a face to this numbers and bring you the story of a young man from Marshalltown, IA.
Roberto Gonzalez is originally from Mexico. He came with his family to the United States when he was 9 years old. Before moving to Iowa, Gonzalez lived in Texas. He met and married his high school sweetheart Maria Gonzalez in Marshalltown, Iowa. Now the couple is living there raising their two young children Alexa and little Carlitos who will be turning 2 soon .
Like many immigrants this year Roberto Gonzalez has been following the politics and listening to what the candidates for President of the United States had to say. And those speeches got him worried and motivated him to finally apply for his citizenship.
“What motivated me were the elections and some of the candidates’ positions on immigration. My wife’s status worried me, although she has DACA that could change in the next election. I also wanted to vote,” Gonzalez explained.
While following closely the developments in the national news, Roberto Gonzalez started the process of obtaining his citizenship that comes with it one of the most important rights of a citizen of any country – the right to choose your leaders.
“The process wasn’t difficult for myself as it is for others. I came to the United States as a resident and was able to apply; the hardest part was, financially applying. Paying for the application and a lawyer because we wanted to make sure we did everything correctly,” Roberto Gonzalez shared. On May 6 of this year he had his ceremony and now he is a proud citizen of United States of America.
Thousands of permanent residents live in the United States. Many of them sometimes do not understand the importance of obtaining citizenship. Citizenship comes with an important right to vote, which can change the future of the country during elections. Unfortunately, many do not have this right and many wish they did.
“I have family members who wish they could vote my wife included. I want her to know she has a voice. Those that can become citizens should when things like deportations divide our families we can’t just sit and let things happen. If we want change we have to act and voting can do just that. Make a difference,” Gonzalez said.
To have a right to vote and exercise it properly can affect absolutely everyone in the country, which is why it is not to be taken lightly. Citizenship is something that also brings many other opportunities that are not available to residents. Roberto Gonzalez shared that he dreams of becoming a police officer and becoming a citizen brought him a little bit closer to this dream.
“Becoming a citizen is a sense of empowerment and you gain many benefits as well. You can live outside of the US or take long trips outside of the US. Once you become a US citizen, you can apply for federal jobs! Register to vote in both state and national elections. If we want change in our community it has to come from us and citizenship is that key,” Gonzalez shared his thoughts on importance of residents applying for citizenship.
Now that Roberto Gonzalez became a citizen, he is excited to start excising his newly obtained right to vote. Unfortunately, he did not have a chance to participate in the Iowa caucus, but he was very involved in the process. He helped people to register to vote and observed the process closely, learning and preparing for the time when he will be able to cast his first vote as a citizen of the United States of America.
“This will be my first year voting and I am very excited. Those that we elect to represent us affect our everyday lives. From our health care, our schools, and keeping our families together. Voting is an important right when you vote you are making your voice heard, and the voice of your community. Vote so that we may all have a voice,” Gonzalez encourages other permanent residents to apply for citizenship.
This year’s 4th of July is a celebration of freedom for some, while for others it is a celebration of the illusion of the same freedom. The craziness of this election cycle, the disappointing decision of Supreme Court on immigration and news of Great Britain making a historic decision that shook the whole world are just a few happenings that everyone is discussing. What unites those events is the simple fact that the people’s vote is the one that has a power to decide the outcome. Those who can become citizens have a great opportunity in front of them. Becoming citizen will let them be part of the decision that will take this great country one way or the other. If you are eligible please consider becoming citizen and through your vote represent those who don’t have a right to vote.