Margaret Doughty came to be in the United States 33 years ago after working in various other countries around the world. Originally she was here on a short-term visa with family however her children fell in love with being here and she decided to take a job to remain here. Margaret is a literacy and social justice advocate, working with literacy coalitions around the U.S. Literacy helps a community to be economically successful and these collaborating organisations are using that as a tool to assist people toward self-sufficiency. Starting back in the early 80’s Margaret was invited to start a coalition in Houston and built from that in other communities as well.
Having already spent more than three decades living here and working here, what made Margaret want to become a citizen? Well, because she had been living here for so long it was obvious it had been home, her partner is American, two of her sons live here and she has American grandchildren. “It seemed like it was the right minute to go from being an outsider to being an insider and the problems that I had been working with had become my own problems. I’ll continue to do social justice work as an American rather than a foreigner working in this country." She does however, maintain her British passport as well.
So, having spent so much time working here and living here one would think that citizenship would be a given. Margaret filled out all the necessary applications and submitted them to the immigration office. The time came for the interview, which she attended answering questions about the United States and demonstrating her ability to speak English fluently. The person conducting the interview informed her that everything looked great…except for one response.
When asked if Margaret was prepared to bear arms for the U.S. if needed, she answered “no." The interviewer asked if, since due to her age Margaret wouldn’t ever be called to actually serve in a combat situation would she be willing to change her answer. The reply was “No, I am a conscientious objector. I cannot do that." When asked on what grounds she was objecting she replied, “moral and ethical." She was then informed that she was only allowed to object on religious grounds. Margaret then explained that she did not belong to any religion nor was she objecting on religious grounds, it was an ethical dilemma.
Margaret was told that her interviewer would speak to her supervisor about it but in the meantime Margaret should think about it and decide what she wants to do. A couple weeks later she received a call from the same immigration employee asking if she had changed her mind about what she intended to do, to which Margaret replied that she had not. She was told that the interviewer was holding back the form that would deny her application, but she had to let Margaret what she intended to do.
At this point Margaret decided to consult an attorney friend and they decided to go over her statement, make sure that it contained what it needed to in order to qualify for “conscientious objection."
She wrote a second statement and took it back to the same immigration officer. She was sworn in “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth" and then was again asked if she was going to change her stance. Margaret replied, “look you have just sworn me in to tell the truth and now want me to lie. No, I can’t change it." She offered the immigration worker the new statement and the research that they had done to show that what she was doing was in fact following the law.
She was again sent away and was contacted back a couple of weeks later. This time it was a letter, giving ten days to respond and informing her that failure to do so might result in rejection of her application. She was to submit on church letterhead references from elders within that church stating that she had attended. It was at this point she decided she needed help.
This is where Kevin Davis stepped in. Kevin is the owner and primary blogger for DividedUnderGod. Kevin was contacted by his friend and stepson to Margaret, Chris Johnson. I got a chance to talk to Kevin about his part in this (and you can find that interview by following this link). In addition to Kevin’s articles I have followed stories and blogs covering Margaret and her attempt to gain citizenship. Many readers have suggested that she talk to any number of non-denominational churches just to gain the letter that INS was asking for. For me, as an atheist this wouldn’t even be an option. Nor was it for Margaret who said that since the law supports her position and she saw no reason to.
Finally, on behalf of the entire country and myself I want to welcome Margaret Doughty officially to the United States of America. Congratulations to one of our newest Americans.
You can find the DividedUnderGod blog here: http://dividedundergod.com/
For more information about Chris Johnson and his book, A Better Life visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/...