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Staff Blog: The Path to Citizenship by Marisol Best - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

Staff Blog: The Path to Citizenship by Marisol Best

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We hope that you all enjoyed American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose. During the show’s run, we asked a few of our staff members to share their stories about how they became U.S. citizens. Our final entry comes from Marisol Best, Education and Outreach Assistant for La Jolla Playhouse.

La Jolla Playhouse Education and Outreach Assistant, Marisol Best (right), with her family at Disneyland.

Arriving in San Diego

Our family left our home in Oaxaca in March of ‘86. The plan was to visit Disneyland and enjoy a family vacation. Flash-forward to a few weeks later (after our Disneyland trip): we were living on top of a billiard hall in Barrio Logan, my parents working, my siblings and I at a new school. Assimilating to a new place, meeting different people, learning a new language and adapting to a new lifestyle was a challenge.


We applied for our residency in 1987 under Reagan’s administration. My grandfather was part of the Bracero program and worked the fields; this qualified our family to apply for green cards.  It wasn’t until 1992, after a long and tedious process (personally I think this process was humiliating and a BILLION times worse than becoming a citizen) that we became legal residents.


In 1998 my parents became eligible to apply for their citizenship and took advantage of the opportunity. An added bonus was the recently passed law for dual citizenship where they were able to claim both Mexico and the U.S. as their country of citizenship. When my parents became citizens I was disappointed. In my opinion, they had accepted another country as theirs. I did not care about the dual citizenship; I felt my parents were betraying Mexico. The vague childhood memories I held onto from our home in Oaxaca were slowly fading away. Were my parents forgetting they were Mexican now that they were U.S. citizens? At the time I did not understand the bigger picture; my parents were claiming their rights, they were protecting the little they had earned, they were securing their voice in this country.

The Battle

For twelve years there was an inner struggle of identity with myself.  I didn’t have a choice to move here, my parents decided for me. Did I really belong here? Did I belong in Oaxaca? Would I be accepted in a country that I was not born in? Would I be accepted in Oaxaca if I moved back? Indeed I was confused. It took me twelve years to understand that my identity is defined by me.  I finally understood my parents’ choice.


On December 2010 I decided to apply for my citizenship. I looked over a thousand forms which I did not understand. Not only were the forms complicated, the cost was RIDICULOUS!  Nevertheless, I was willing to pay the price to become a citizen. After investigating with the assistance of a nice postal service lady, we realized that I qualified for automatic citizenship.  My parents had become citizens in 1998 when I was a minor; therefore I was automatically a citizen.

Becoming a Citizen

With $150.00, a couple of pictures, an application, a copy of my parents’ citizenship certificate and my green card, I waved goodbye to being a legal resident. The turnaround time was ridiculously fast; my passport was sitting in the mail when I got home a couple of weeks later.

Ironically, I was looking forward to the courthouse and taking the oath, getting my picture taken with my certificate and American flag in hand and a big ol’ smile. Instead, there was a blue passport in my kitchen counter looking at me as I chuckled and said, “I’m an American.”

American Night is headed to Los Angeles! Catch the show at the Kirk Douglas Theatre from March 9 – April 1. Tickets are available at

1 Comment

  1. I had Corner Cupcakes at a recent event at Mission Brewery. They were a huge hit! Getting to pick your tpigpnos was fun, but oh so hard to choose!! My cupcake would have fluffy marshmallow cream with chocolate chips and almond slivers. Kinda like a Rocky Road!


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