The path to citizenship

February 21, 2017


Isabela Palmieri – Photo by Colin Fontenot

Isabela Palmieri shares her journey of becoming a U.S. citizen


News Editor | kjk019@latech.edu


Each year in the United States, many who hold the status of permanent resident decide to begin on the path of naturalization and move toward being a citizen.


Isabela Palmieri, a communication major at Louisiana Tech, and her family are currently undergoing the process of becoming citizens of the United States.


The family moved permanently to the states from Brazil in the summer of 2008, when Palmieri was 12 years old. They have had a green card for six years and made the decision to move toward permanent citizenship in the fall of 2016.


“I mean, we pretty much are all on the same page in the fact that we are not going to move back to Brazil,” Palmieri said. “Our life is here now, my brothers and I are all integrated into school and life here, so my parents said, ‘Why not go ahead with the citizenship?’ We know we’re going to live here basically for the rest of our lives. So, we might as well go ahead and do it.”


Palmieri recently took the naturalization test, and said she and her family will wait until they are contacted further.


“So now we just wait to hear back,” she said. “That’s the kind of thing where it’s kind of a waiting game.”


Right: Isabela (center) with her mother, brothers, and father. – Photo courtesy of Celso Palmieri

Palmieri said although her rights will not change substantially when her status goes from permanent resident to citizen, she is looking forward to gaining the ability to vote.


“I’m really excited that I get to vote because I kind of watched this election closely and I wish I could have partaken in it, you know?” she said. “And being a poli-sci minor, obviously I have a lot of opinions as far as things that are going on. It’s just kind of frustrating to have all of these opinions, but not be able to act on it and be able to go out there and vote and everything like that.”


Palmieri said her family moved to the United States in part because her father, Celso Palmieri, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, encountered a job opening at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. She said initially she looked forward to the relocation.


“At first, obviously everything was new, so I was really excited,” she said. “Because when you hear ‘the United States,’ everybody has this idea of like, you know, the American dream and I thought, ‘Oh wow, it seems so cool.’”


Palmieri said although the culture shock was not immediate, it did set in gradually.


“It’s not a culture shock in the sense that oh you walk out of the airport and it hits you in the face,” she said. “It’s more like when you start meeting people and you start seeing people’s traditions and the way they live and the way they think about certain things.”


Palmieri said the level of affection was different than in Brazil.


“But one thing that you immediately notice is how people here are less affectionate in a sense,” she said. “They want more of their personal space, and in Brazil it’s very much not like that. Nobody is scared to show affection between family members of friends: you greet each other with a kiss on the cheek, like, a side-hug is not a thing.”


Palmieri said both places had their own unique aspects that she is drawn to.


“Here’s the reality though: once you’ve lived in both places, you know the best thing of both places so it’s like sometimes when I’m here I’m thinking of Brazil and my family and you know, thinking, ‘Oh, if I were there I could be doing this or doing that,’” she said. “But then when I’m there I’m thinking of here, and I’m thinking of my car and my friends, because there I don’t drive. So, it kind of like, the grass is always greener on the other side, and when you’ve seen both sides you’re just torn in between.”


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