Citizens

This week we received FangFang’s Certificate of Citizenship, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I’m both thankful that we have it and saddened that, this time around, I have felt much more of a sense of urgency as we waited for its arrival. The current political and cultural climate surrounding immigration is frightening to me. Today we have reports of customs agents checking the identification of every passenger disembarking from a domestic flight. When Miranda was a baby, I flew with her with no thought to any need that might arise for me to prove her citizenship. That will never be the case with my other daughters.¬†Earlier this week there were cautions that those who look like immigrants should make sure not to leave home without their passports. You can argue that these measures are aimed at illegal immigrants.

But it’s not too much of a stretch to think that those currently in power in our country – President Trump, his advisers, and the Republican-controlled Congress – might go a step beyond that. Trump advisers have cited the internment of Japanese Americans – citizens of our country – during World War II as a legal precedent for actions they might consider.

My daughters have some access to my own white privilege at this time – but the fact remains that they are immigrants. Legal immigrants, yes, citizens even, but immigrants nonetheless. I have, twice now, entered a US Consulate in another country, in order to complete the formal application for an immigrant visa for a child whose adoption I had recently finalized.

We now have the document that is the gold standard in proving citizenship for both of our foreign-born children. We’ll be applying for FangFang’s passport soon, so that all 6 of us have passports, should a situation arise in which we’d feel a need to travel abroad quickly. I hope that the coming months and years prove that to be an unwarranted fear – and I think it likely is – but I’m not willing to say that I’m 100% certain of that, so we’re going to take what we believe to be the necessary precautions.

And I would ask that, in the coming months and years, when you hear discussions of policy proposals and recommendations surrounding immigration policy, you remember my children, two of whom are immigrants. Immigration policy is, of course, about politics, but for our family, it is also deeply personal. When you make blanket statements about immigrants and their place in our country, please remember my children. They are immigrants, and they – as well as all other immigrants here in our country – deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.