ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — Anyone from another country who wants to become a citizen of the United States must live here for at least five years before going through the naturalization process.
Some people wait longer – a lot longer.
That was the case with four Mount Desert Island residents who became citizens in a naturalization ceremony on the lawn at Jordan Pond House on Aug. 12.
Linda and Terry Crowell, originally from Nova Scotia, have lived in Bar Harbor for 21 years. They moved here after she graduated from nursing school and got a job at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has been a family nurse practitioner at Cadillac Family Practice for the past five years.
Terry Crowell owns Pine Coast Builders.
Their green cards, which allowed them to live and work permanent in the U.S., were up for their second 10-year renewal this year. But they decided to become citizens instead.
Terry said it really wasn’t a hard choice.
“We still love Canada, but other than the legal border, we kind of feel that we’re one and the same people,” he said of the two nationalities.
It wasn’t quite so easy for Linda. As part of the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S., candidates for citizenship must “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen … .”
“Having to renounce your place of birth, that’s really hard to do; that was the most difficult part of the whole process,” Linda said. “It’s not that I’m not loyal [to the U.S.], but actually having to say the words is tough.”
She said her principal reason for wanting to become a U.S. citizen was so she could vote.
“When [Gov. Paul] LePage got reelected, and I see our women’s reproductive rights being threatened, I felt like I needed to partake in the political process,” she said.
Becoming eligible to vote was also a big incentive for Janet Strong, who owns the XYZ Restaurant in Manset.
“That’s the one thing I’ve not been able to do,” she said of voting. “And I can’t wait to get my American passport. I’m going right to the post office.”
Originally from Ontario, Strong first got her U.S. green card in 1980.
She said she had been intending to go through the naturalization process “for a very long time.”
Jamaican-born Leckera Gaynor came to this country 16 years ago as a child.
“It’s time I did it,” she said of becoming a U.S. citizen. “I want to travel, so I need a passport, and I like America.”
Gaynor lives in Hulls Cove and works in a local hotel.
The four MDI residents were among 30 people from 16 foreign countries who became American citizens here last week. They now live in 21 Maine cities and towns.
The naturalization process is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.
To be eligible for citizenship, an applicant must be “a person of good moral character; be able to speak, read, write and understand the English language; have knowledge of U.S. government and history [and] be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance.”