Becoming a US citizen “was one of the best days of my life,” said the new voter who left Venezuela as a child.
On Nov. 3, Victoria Príncipe will be voting for the first time in the 2020 presidential election. For her, this moment won’t be just a day of making her voice heard. Her vote on this “historic” election day, as she says, will also be a culmination of years that led her to this moment as a naturalized US citizen and an immigrant from Venezuela.
Príncipe first came to the US as an 11-year-old and settled in the suburbs of South Florida with her mother, father, and sisters. Her family made the difficult decision to leave their native country when the situation began to deteriorate, in the hopes of creating a better future for Príncipe and her three sisters.
The process of becoming a US citizen wasn’t always easy, Príncipe recalls in an interview with The Americano, but each progression in the immigration system was worth the wait. On Dec. 20, 2019, Príncipe finally became a citizen and registered to vote on the same day.
“Every time I think about it, I get teary eyed,” Príncipe said about the day she became a citizen. “It was a long time coming.”
Príncipe said the day of her US citizenship test, she and her parents were assigned to take it on the very same day.
“I think God works in mysterious ways,” Príncipe said. “It was great because the three of us went together for an interview, I was still a little nervous.”
While they were all prepared for their test, and the process to get to that point took years, Príncipe said she couldn’t get too excited that they would all pass. Thankfully, she said, they all did.
“We went back home and started drinking, and it was a great day,” Príncipe said. “Then, we got the date for getting sworn in, and we got the same day at the same time, so it was really exciting.”
For Príncipe, the next monumental milestone of becoming a US citizen was registering to vote.
“I mean obviously for me it was a big deal because I have never voted in a presidential election, not at home, not here,” she said.
“I think what made that day [when I became a US citizen] unforgettable was because I saw it in my parents’ eyes,” Príncipe said. “It was all worth it. Every step of the way, every situation when we thought it was hard, or maybe [my parents] thought of going back to Venezuela because it would have been easier for us to go back home, but no, we stayed.”
She said her vote isn’t solely a representation of her views but a way to help future generations.
“This election means everything to me,” Príncipe said. “I think this might be the most important election in the history of the United States, especially for my generation.”
She said there’s so much on the line in this election, including the economy, racial injustice, climate change, and women’s issues. For Príncipe, voting is also a way to heal the division taking place in the United States.
“We’re fighting for the soul of this country,” she said. “I feel the level of division nowadays, and you know there’s so much hatred and ugliness all around, so I think it’s so important to vote, and I’m so excited that I’ll be a first-time voter this election.”
UPDATE (October 14, 2020, 2:30 a.m.): This article has been updated to correct that Victoria Príncipe has three sisters and that she became a US citizen on Dec. 20th.