Five people take the Oath of Allegiance in the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 19 to become naturalized American citizens. (Alex Brandon/AP)

The Washington Post
By Matthew Hemsley
Matthew Hemsley is a church planter and clergy at Truro Anglican Church in Fairfax, Virginia.
January 28 at 6:00 AM

When my family and I arrived in America in 2006, we weren’t planning to stay. I thought I was taking a working sabbatical — a break from my job as a video producer and our family’s life in London. Twelve years later, on Jan. 19, I had one of the most surreal moments of my life: I was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in the Oval Office by President Trump.

We arrived on a working visa, so that I could help a friend establish a church in Charlotte (something some of my ancestors, who first emigrated to these shores in 1637 to escape religious persecution in England, might have had mixed feelings about). Some 12 years on, we were living and working in the Washington area and had our green cards. By now, my three daughters had grown up in the United States. This was their home. I wanted to secure my wife and my children’s futures here, and to have a voice in civic life by gaining the right to vote — perhaps because of the changing political climate. As an immigrant, it often feels as though you should shut up and say nothing.

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