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The Rectification of Names

Friday, September 30, 2022

"It's a question of which is to be master, that's all."


Photo by Riley on Unsplash

Sometimes I wonder if what I write is so pessimistic I've given up hope about the future of our Nation. That changed recently with the post I did about 9/11. And last Saturday, my hope for America found further reinforcement from another New York City event, this time personal but quite patriotic nonetheless.

I think many of the regulars here know that I am a New Jersey immigration lawyer. Most, but not all, of my agency and court appearances occur in Newark. The Newark USCIS Field Office is nearly alone in naturalizing applicants the same day they appear and pass the interview. It just doesn't happen in New York City.

At least that is what I thought going with my wife and her daughter to a Saturday morning interview in the "Brooklyn Field Office" at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan. The place was nearly empty when we arrived for her 11:20 interview. Her application was squeaky clean. When we got to the waiting room, there were maybe five other applicants there with us. The appointment began only 15 minutes after we checked in, and it only took another 15 minutes to complete. Both the wait and the interview were unusually fast. (I have waited over an hour in Newark just to be called.) Then to my surprise, the officer said to my "client," "Would you like to become naturalized today?" And, to my delight, within another 10 minutes we and about ten other applicants assembled in a small room with a podium and table just off of the main waiting room. After about 30 minutes, my wife's daughter, who is like a daughter to me, took the oath of allegiance to the United States and joined the ranks of US citizens, along with her Russian mother.

Afterward, we celebrated in a Laotian restaurant halfway between 26 Federal Plaza and the PATH train station near the WTC.

It so happened that our waitress was Russian, prompting me to think that only in New York City would it be possible to find such an ethnic combination.

But, the larger lesson is that our country really is "A Nation of Immigrants." In my opinion, it is only through the initiative of immigrants that our country, despite all its faults and societal inequities, occasionally achieves moments of greatness that allow even me to regard America as "the leader of the free world" still -- though these are times when I only think so in comparison to the places where our immigrant communities come from.

I will close this small post with the brief observation that it is the smile and hope on this new citizen's face that makes me keep doing what I do, and that so motivates me to oppose the forces of fascism and white racism plaguing the body politic today. Sam Alito has done us all a huge favor by revealing the loss of freedom we will all suffer if we don't fight back at the ballot box. Maybe this November will result in a Democratic victory that will mark the beginning of the New New Deal I felt was within our grasp in 2008. I hope so.


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