Trump’s bad leadership and attacks on immigrants made me an American citizen – Antirson Ortiz
In an exclusive interview with Parkchester Times Editor, Mutiu Olawuyi, Antirson Ortiz, a 31-year old Bronx resident who voted for the first time of his life in the US, after immigrating from Dominican Republic with his family, has claimed that Trump’s bad leadership skill opened his eyes and pushed him to hasten his becoming an American citizen despite his poor family background.
Relax and enjoy every bit of what ensued during the interview!
PT: Your recent post on Facebook shows that you’ve gotten a story to tell about your journey to become an American citizen with voter's right. Tell me briefly about your experience as a first time voter in the US.
Ortiz: Voting for the first time was a roller coaster of emotions. My family travelled to this country when I was 9 years old from the Dominican Republic and my parents left everything behind including their careers, in order for my siblings and me to have a better future. While everyone in my family became citizens throughout the years, I never took the step towards becoming a citizen myself. While I had encouraged others to vote from a young age when I was a youth counselor, to working in State Government and now as a City Director for Constituent Services for the NYC Comptroller; I had yet to accomplish this milestone myself.
While casting my vote, although I had seen and was familiar with the procedures, it was a complete emotional experience. I started to think about the many people in history, who sacrificed even their lives for me to have this right. I thought about the many immigrants in this country right now, who looked forward to doing what I was about to do. I remembered that 9 year old boy in that airplane, traveling over here for a better life with his family and how casting my ballot would hopefully contribute to the future of many families and children who will also travel over here, have come, and currently live in this community seeking a better life. The adrenaline rush was epic, but I understood that this was just a stepping stone to reaching a higher catalyst in the progress in our community, city, state and country.
PT: How and when did you start the processing of your green card? What were the challenges you faced?
Ortiz: When my family arrived to this country, we had the blessing and opportunity to come as green card holders. I maintained the residency up to the age of 30, when I decided to apply for citizenship. The opportunity was there, but due to financial constraints I kept on pushing the opportunity
Never felt that not being a citizen prevented me from advocating for, organizing and fighting for progress in my community.
PT: So why did it take you 22 years to get the citizenship?
Ortiz: My family always struggled financially in this country. I had always worked in not-for-profits where the pay wasn’t enough or where sometimes I didn’t get paid for months. My parents obtained the citizenship first, my sister when she became a professional applied and paid herself. Followed by my brother and I. Not much guidance were provided as to what resources were available for us over the years. I learned about them myself, while starting to work in government over 5 years ago.
Eventually, the rhetoric and lack of leadership of this current government in the White House opened my eyes as to how crucial obtaining citizenship is and how quick others can take away or threaten your aspirations to achieve the so called American Dream.
PT: I guess there are thousands of immigrants like you who are still unaware of what to do. What message do you have for them?
Ortiz: For those immigrants that are unaware of what to do, I would tell them there are people and agencies out there that are willing and able to help them achieve this milestone and their dreams of a better tomorrow in this country.
And, should they need to find out what some of these organizations are, they can always look through the Immigrant Rights and Services Manual compose by the Office of the NYC Comptroller, which is available in over 8 languages in this link: https://comptroller.nyc.gov/services/for-the-public/immigrant-rights-and-services/
As always, I am also here to help people as well to the best of my ability.
PT: So what lesson has Trump’s racial attack on immigrant taught you specifically?
Ortiz: To me, this administration has shown me that government has no right in implementing or wanting to execute policies/procedures which can create a lack of hope and absence of meaning in the lives of people who make this country what it is and who would like to come to this country in search for a better life, liberty and the pursue of Happiness.