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Becoming an American–why not?

Becoming an American — why not?

Stories about immigration and citizenship form the backbone of our great American story as much today as in past times. Here is an excerpt about becoming American from We Were Not Spoiled, the memoir of Lucille Verreault Ledoux as told to Denis Ledoux.

My father had not come to the US to stay but that’s what happened. Working here to support his family and buying an apartment building that was his family’s home, it must have seemed obvious to him that this is where he would spend the rest of his life. So,

My Father, Joseph Verreault

My father, Joseph Verreault

why not become an American citizen? Sometime in the mid-1920s, he did just that. Now, he could not be deported and put his family at risk. My mother did not join him in becoming a citizen, but remained here as a resident alien. My father could make himself understood in English, but my mother did not know much beyond what she had learned in her waitressing days in Thetford. She felt this lack of English would stop her from passing the examinations for citizenship. My father was a now citizen, and so they perhaps felt that would save her from deportation, Besides, she did not work outside the home and so was not taking a job away from a citizen.

Although he was now naturalized, my father didn’t understand that he had the same privileges as native-born people—except he could not become President! He was still afraid that the process could be

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One Response to Becoming an American–why not?

  1. Karen Douglass March 1, 2013 at 4:16 PM #

    A good reminder that our immigration issues go way back. I too have Canadian ancestors and I wonder how they handled it. Family rumor is that my great grandfather claimed to have been born in Canada, but a cousin recently found this was not so; he was born in the US. Thanks for the post, Mr. Ledoux.

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