I'm not a U.S. citizen. I'm the only one in my family who isn't. My husband was born in Puerto Rico--a colony of the United State--and both our children were born in Colorado. So they're all American by birth. My older sister was born here when my father was a student in Florida. Although they went back to Peru when she was not even one, when we came back to the States many years later, my parents obtained their legal permanent residency through her. Once they were residents, they petitioned for my little brother and I. After spending the five years as legal permanent resident required by law, they all applied for citizenships and eventually became naturalized citizens. I, on the other hand, opted against it.

Read more in ¿Qué más?: Why I NEVER want to have a big, traditional Latin wedding!

This is not really a subject I like to discuss—especially during these contentious political times full of anti-immigrant backlash, but I figured that sharing my personal struggle with this subject could resonate with other people out there who feel the same way.

The reasons behind that decision have been the source of many an argument between my husband and I but, in essence, how can I agree to become a citizen of the United States when my heart and soul are so deeply Peruvian? To a lot of people, one thing has nothing to do with the other. They see it all in terms of practicalities. Just because you become an American citizen doesn't mean you're no longer Peruvian, they tell me. Plus, both countries allow you to have dual citizenship, they add. Still, it just doesn't feel right.

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It's not that I have anything at all against my adopted country. My children wouldn't have been born here if that were the case. It's just something that is really hard to explain, but I
will try—even though I'll probably get lynched in the process. I like the United States, but I love Peru. I'll stand up as a sign of respect when someone recites the pledge of allegiance or sings the national anthem, but I won't follow in their lead. The only anthem I know by heart and can sing at a moment's notice is the Peruvian one. I think the Stars and Stripes is beautiful, but I only get butterflies in my stomach when I see the red, white and red flag of my birth country. I could go on and on, but I think this will have to suffice.

What do you think? Am I crazy for not wanting to become an American citizen? Share your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

Image via Grand Canyon NPS/flickr

About the author

Roxana A. Soto is Features Editor for MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a girl in 3rd grade and a boy in Kinder. She loves books, languages, traveling and good food – especially when cooked by someone else.

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samira

I agree with you!! I feel the same way!!

nonmember avatar
I totally agree with you! I feel the same way you do! There are few or almost none that will understand the LOVE we have for our birth countries!
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