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The Struggles for Citizenship

Many around the world dream of one day claiming the American Dream for themselves. Because that dream is shared by so many, however, that often means it is incredibly hard to reach. Consider the difficulty in receiving residency in America, or as it is popularly known, getting a green card. The odds are very much against all but the very best and brightest. Even they have to work hard and hope.

But even for those who have an easier path, for instance, those who marry Americans and immigrate through that more straightforward process, the steps to reaching citizenship are still incredibly difficult.

While there may be a bias in some circle in this country against the process, with an assumption that it is quite easy, those circles would be wrong. There is a residency requirement of multiple years (at least three for those married to an American, at least five for other green card holders) that prohibit long-term stays (more than six months) in the home country. The fees for every application, from the first visa to the first green card (for two years), to the permanent green card (for ten years after the initial two) are quite steep. No matter the pathway an individual immigrant takes, it’s impossible to stay in America and work towards citizenship without spending thousands of dollars in the process. That is a lot of money for those new to a country who must also invest in building a new life.

Beyond the costs, there is the paperwork, which is extensive. Just as thousands of dollars must be spent, so hundreds of pages must be filled out meticulously. Even the slightest mistake or inaccuracy can lead to an application being denied, which would mean a need to pay the application fees all of over again. Rigorous records must be kept for every trip, every move, every new job. For those on a marriage visa, records must be kept to show when the couple met, how their courtship developed, and every proceeding step from there. Evidence will be required for all of these moments, and again, a mistake could cost thousands as well as months of waiting while potentially also being left in legal limbo.

The difficulties are great enough that many people choose to go to an immigration lawyer who can help guide them through the citizenship process. But again, that is another expense to consider in an already expensive process.

Of course, in the end, if all goes well, the immigrant receives permanent access to that American Dream, which makes it all worthwhile, but it would be unfair to those immigrants to assume they have not worked hard or sacrificed to earn that dream. From the moment that person woke up in their native country and decided they wanted to be an American to the moment they receive their certificate of naturalization, it can take almost a decade of their lives, a large portion of their income, and countless hours of work.

It’s all worth it, but we should appreciate them for caring so much about our country that they’d sacrifice so much to join us here.

Pool Maintenance

Swimming pools are a source of great fun in the summertime. What kid doesn’t dream of having a swimming pool in his or her backyard?

Yet, it’s important to keep in mind, as a parent, that swimming pools aren’t just for fun. Swimming pools can be dangerous.

For instance, the most obvious danger with a swimming pool is the risk of drowning. While this danger is always present when near water, the risk is greater when a family owns the pool simply because the water is always there. Kids can sneak out and swim at night or go out when parents are taking a nap. At any time, the risk is there. Parents need to take extra caution because of this. Putting up a fence around the pool would help keep the younger children out. For older children, strict rules with strict punishments are suggested to drill in the dangers of the pool. Also, make sure all children, regardless of age, get swimming lessons.

Another risk with a pool is slipping. Again, this is always present when water is around, but once again, a pool at the home means the risk is always there. To limit the risk, make sure your pool doesn’t have slippery surfaces nearby and enforce the rule of no running near the pool.

Further risks include, on the one hand, the spread of disease, and on the other, chemical exposure. These are really two sides of the same coin. If the pool water is not treated enough, bacteria can grow and that can lead to illness for people who swim in it. If too many chemicals are used (or someone gets into the chemicals) there’s a risk from that exposure. To limit this risk, keep careful track of your pool cleaning schedule and lock away any chemicals you use. Ideally, hire pool cleaners since they know best when and how to clean pools.

There are many smaller dangers also to consider, from injuries from pool toys to sunburns, and all such dangers suggest a new to always be vigilant with a pool in the backyard.

A pool can be the greatest gift you ever give your family. It can give children innumerable great summer memories. At the same time, though, pools require a heightened level of awareness and responsibility. Anyone considering purchasing a pool should be aware of this ahead of time.

Make sure, if you do decide to put in a pool, that you install the right surfaces (to avoid slipping), get a fence, and maintain strict rules for how to act in the pool. At the same time, keep a strict cleaning schedule and keep all chemicals strictly locked away and out of reach of everyone but yourself.

When it comes to pool fun, a little strictness is the best recipe for a good time. A little strictness makes sure people aren’t just having fun, they’re playing safe.

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