The news cycle continues to feed us harrowing stories of communities of color under attack due to the unavoidable influence of Donald Trump’s racist beliefs. We continue to see devastating stories of gun violence against the Latinx community, images of children being ripped away from their families and more images of our communities suffering as a result of dangerous laws and policies put in place by the Trump administration.
So it’s almost surprising (yet refreshing and hopeful) to see the opposite imagery and portrayal of our communities when they circulate on social media.
Earlier this month, Brianna Valle shared a video that quickly went viral on social media of her 76-year-old grandfather, Arnulfo, who had just learned that he’d officially become a U.S. citizen.
In the video, the grandfather can be seen overcome with emotion as he reads the news that after nearly two decades, he’s finally become a citizen of the U.S. “It took my tata 19 years to finally get his citizenship. Unfortunately, some families have to wait even longer, even if it’s just to become a resident. Be grateful guys,” writes Valle in a tweet.
Many people though think that obtaining your citizenship in the U.S. or being on the path to citizenship is as easy as “getting in line.”
There is no line, and if there is, it’s never-ending—especially with the Trump administration’s policies on immigration.
According to an article in the New York Times, one California man applied for U.S. citizenship in the fall of 2017 (after paying a $725 fee) and it wasn’t until February of 2019 that his application was fully processed. It took more than a year after he applied to be scheduled for a citizenship interview.
The same article also states that the time “aspiring” Americans must wait to be naturalized citizens has skyrocketed to almost twice as long. Of course, the delays are a result of the Trump administration’s scrutiny of these applications and the diversion of staff from reviewing them. Further, it’s a result of the administration “introducing proposals likely to make it more difficult, and cumbersome, for green-card holders to qualify and complete the process.”
Once the grandfather (Arnulfo) had received his citizen passport card, his wife/Valle’s grandmother laid it out on the table for him to find. In the heartwarming video, you can feel Arnulfo’s relief, happiness, and joy when he takes a look at the citizen passport card.
Valle also spoke to Mashable about the heartfelt video, and she told the publication that her grandfather had gone to the ceremony to become a citizen in July and then he had applied for the passport. “He’s not very familiar with the process and when he had to turn in his citizen certificate and his green card in order to get the passport, he became distressed after a few weeks when he still didn’t receive the passport,” Valle said.
Valle shared with Mashable that her grandfather also felt stressed when he would see immigration-related news because he no longer had that physical proof of residency from the U.S., so when he finally saw the passport on the table earlier this month—many of his worries went away.
This just comes to show the real ways that the Trump administration’s stance on immigration hurts our communities. The news alone is enough to trigger or traumatize folks who may fear deportation.
Despite the uneasiness, he felt in the weeks leading up to receiving his U.S. passport, we hope Valle’s grandfather knows that he has many people rooting for him.
People who don’t even know him but were touched by his reaction and his story. “I hope people realize their advantages, while others keep striving to get theirs,” the Twitter user said.
People on social media shared with Valle their own story about being a naturalized citizen and wished her grandfather the best.
“We take this for granted sometimes, but I know he *never* will. Felicidad!,” another user Twitter said in a post.
Even Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa replied to the video and shared her joy for Arnulfo.
“Crying crying joy,” she said in a tweet. “This is who we are.”
Valle also explained to Mashable that in the video, her grandfather can be heard saying, “God this is all I’ve asked you, and you gave it to me.”
“He studied so hard for so long but because of his disability and age it was harder him to learn and understand the questions,” Valle said. But despite those challenges, we’re glad to see that he prevailed and was able to see his efforts pay off.