Mobridge woman gains U.S. Citizenship
American poet Emma Lazarus wrote The New Colossus that read, “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flames the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. ‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The poem was written in honor of the Statute of Liberty the symbol of accepting immigrants into America. America is a symbol of freedom and opportunity that some have taken for granted; others have fought for and fought to be apart of.
Genara Johnson Peters from the Philippines, is one that worked hard to become an American. Growing up in Paigalo with seven siblings, her father was a U.S. Officer in World War II, when the United States stationed troops in the Philippines the military started commissioning officers from the Philippine military. As an adult she moved to Manaila, she describes the island as beautiful paradise with palm trees and white sandy beaches, but she also remembers the poverty of the country. With families living in cardboard boxes, on train tracks, collecting plastic to sell so they could buy rice.
“They all dream of America, It’s a land of opportunity, to express yourself” said Eric Peters Genaras husband. “We take that for granted here it’s time we start appreciating what we have.”
She heard stories of the freedoms and opportunities offered.
“My cousin told me ‘when you see America, it is worth dying for,’” Genara said.
For years she applied for a visitors visa. She paid $100 for an interview and was denied six times. The difficulty
stemmed from Genara being a young single woman, the agency told her unless she had financial obligations she would not be able to travel back and fourth.
Genara was finally able to see America when she married school teacher Eric Peters of Mobridge in 2008. She is able to travel the country and see her sister, who was an American citizen and her best friend, who lived in Caif. she has seen more than 20 states. Genara said that her favorite; state is California because of it’s lack of snow. Marrying a American she was granted permanent residency allowing her to get a job and live in the United States. She was not allowed to travel outside of the country or apply for citizenship for three years after she was married.
Genara wanted the same rights as her husband: the ability to speak freely, to travel, and to vote. As soon as the three-year mark hit she filed and started her journey to citizenship. For three more years she waited, followed the guidelines such as not leaving the country for more than 180 days, and she studied. The process to become a citizen is a long and tedious one. Genara filled out mountains of paperwork, amd learned 12 years of American history in three. She was given a book of 100 questions that she had to know by heart, however the agency would only ask her 10 of them. On June 27, 2013 Genara was granted her citizenship at the Naturalization Ceremony at Mount Rushmore.
“I am so happy that I’m an American now. I have this freedom and I can exercise my rights,” Genara said, “I feel so blessed.”
Genara’s 24-year-old son who is working on his nursing degree and has applied for U.S. citizenship. They were told that it would take five to 10 years for his case to be processed but they believe it is worth the wait to be an American.
There are many other Walworth county residences that have recived their U.S. citizenship and are building careers and lives in the community.