Congratulations sir, immigration laws are a muhfugga huh?
A Grenadian immigrant who lives in Brooklyn has been a citizen for more than a decade – but just found out this week.
“All this time, I could’ve been voting!” said Linden Philbert, 30, who lives in Crown Heights and works as an administrative assistant at CUNY’s Citizenship NOW! immigration center at Medgar Evers College.
“I feel more like I belong. You’re kind of scared when you’re a permanent resident.”
Philbert’s mother naturalized back in 1998, just months before he turned 18. Without realizing it, he automatically became a citizen the moment she did.
But proving this is actually only possible because his home country has a backward law still on the books that makes children born out of wedlock legally “illegitimate.”
U.S. immigration law is so Byzantine that if Philbert, who has never met his father, had been born in a country with more modern laws, he would not be a citizen because he doesn’t have a legal document showing that his mom always had legal custody.
But since he’s legally illegitimate in Grenada, he was able to successfully apply for a passport this week.
“If he were born in Jamaica, he would not be a citizen,” said lawyer and Citizenship NOW! director Allan Wernick – who advised Philbert to get a passport as proof of citizenship.
Keep up the good work, and get these immigrant registered to vote if they are eligible. We’re gonna need ’em for this 2012 election!