I still remember the day of my citizenship exam. It was a cold Monday in November 2017, at the San Antonio office of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). I had relentlessly studied the 100 questions about the history and government of the United States that might be asked. I prayed I wouldn’t forget the answers. My heart was pounding and my stomach was in a complete knot. The USCIS agent asked: “Who is the governor of Texas?” “Abbott,” I responded. The officer sternly asked for the governor’s full name. My mind was running. A few months before, I had tweeted at Abbott when he signed SB 4 on Facebook and proudly boasted about criminalizing immigrants and making it easier for state and local police to work with the feds to detain and deport. But I could not remember his first name. I froze. The irony of my life: Would I fail my citizenship exam because I couldn’t remember the first name of the man who was hurting the immigrant community so much? The same man who is now calling into question my right to vote. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tried to remember his Twitter handle. It came to me and I blurted, “Greg Abbott!” A few questions later, the USCIS officer said, “I am recommending you for the citizenship oath ceremony.”
Finally, 26 years after I had migrated to the United States and made Austin my home. After all the trials and tribulations as an undocumented immigrant. After being a survivor of domestic violence and getting my green card because of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Justice had prevailed — I would be a U.S. citizen.
In April 2018, my family and friends joined me as I took my citizenship oath. I couldn’t help but cry in joy and excitement as I waved my American flag. A month later, I proudly cast my first vote in the United States — one of the new rights I was most excited about. At the polls, I thought of all the people in the immigrant community who were counting on my vote to ensure we are treated with dignity and respect.
But a couple weeks ago, when I saw Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton proclaim “VOTER FRAUD ALERT,” my heart sank. It was clear to me that the Secretary of State’s office hadn’t thoroughly investigated the data it had released on 95,000 potential non-citizen voters. Frightened, I emailed the Travis County Voter Registrar to ask if I was on the list. A couple of days later, I received a call that confirmed my fear — my right to vote was being questioned.