“Welcome, my friends. Welcome, my fellow Americans. Welcome.”

5 mins read
Becoming an American citizen

Every immigrant comes to America with one thing in common: courage. The courage it takes to sacrifice and make this journey — to a nation that is more than a place, but rather, an idea — that everyone is created equal.”

President Joe Biden

My parents and I immigrated to America when I was an infant.

My father and mother met in Ireland in the mid-’80s where my Mexican mom was studying English. I was born in Dublin in 1986, near the height of “The Troubles.”

My parents came to America in hopes of providing themselves and their kids a better future than seemed possible at home. So my father began as a carpenter in New York City, saved up and was able to pay for my mother and me to join him — in America.

My younger brother was born in 1989 in Hoboken, New Jersey. An American citizen by birthright. And the only one of our family of four who was officially an American. In the years since, my family has lived out our version of the “American Dream” with all the imperfections that come with it. 

All of my parents’ sons went to college. I was able to study at Stanford, study British politics at Oxford, intern on Capitol Hill and then work there.

I got involved in politics. Why? Because I couldn’t yet vote myself. I wasn’t yet a citizen when I turned 18. And I still had a green card when I left college. I got into campaigns because I couldn’t understand how so few people who had the privilege of voting, just didn’t.

So, since I didn’t have a vote or say, directly, myself, I decided to spend my time convincing those who could vote, to vote. I worked on campaigns and specialized in the field: contacting voters to make sure they turned up on Election Day. That they didn’t waste their vote.

And then, in 2012, it finally happened! In the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California, I joined hundreds of others as we raised our right hands and swore allegiance to the United States of America. We became citizens. I could finally cast my own ballot and have a say in who governs us.

In the years since, I’ve stayed in politics and government. I had the privilege of helping elect Rep. Eric Swalwell to become my member of Congress in 2012. In fact, my very first vote was a vote for him to represent us in Washington, D.C. I’m so proud to have worked for him.

I now work for another inspirational elected official, Buffy Wicks, a California Assemblymember, who shares the belief that the role our elected officials play isn’t just about making decisions on our behalf but allowing us all to have a role in how those decisions are made. To be a part of it all.

I share all this because when I watched this video of our president, Joe Biden, sharing the story of his Irish ancestors, and of the important role immigrants have played in shaping America — after years of having a president that denigrated immigrants — I cried tears of relief.

But I also teared up because of recent news out of Northern Ireland where we are seeing the results of the catastrophic Brexit decision. Violence reminiscent of the instability we fled. Violence pushed by the same right-wing forces that gave us Trump who sow division for sport.

I teared up because our president’s words are a much-needed alternative to the hate-mongering — racist-fueled xenophobia and white supremacy — that we hear from Tucker Carlson and Fox News. Coming from an outfit that, to his great shame, is headed by an American immigrant himself.

I was so afraid last year. Worried the American project might be lost. But watching President Biden speak those words gives me hope. Hope we can keep this going — and defeat the forces that would rather drive us apart. But it requires putting in the work. And not stopping.

Today you’ve earned a new title equal to that of an American president — the title I’m most proud of: citizen. Citizen of the United States of America…. Welcome, my friends. Welcome, my fellow Americans. Welcome.”

President joe biden

This article originally appeared as a Twitter thread:

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Para una versión en inglés de este artículo, lea "A Recurring Nightmare."

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