She was minutes away from becoming a citizen after 17 years in the United States, and she was not about to let a little thing like labor contractions get in her way.
The Armenian American woman, 31, walked to a Los Angeles convention center Thursday to be naturalized alongside about 3,200 other immigrants, Reuters reported. Tatev, who asked to be identified only by her first name, had planned to give birth to her second child by Caesarean section next week.
Tatev was nervous about President Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration, and U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney told Reuters she refused to leave the ceremony until she was officially a citizen. Her naturalization process had taken six years, Reuters reported, and she was too anxious to wait any longer.
Carney devised a creative solution: Sitting across from Tatev in a corner of the convention center, he performed an impromptu naturalization ceremony just for her. Tatev raised her right hand, swore an oath and became a citizen, according to Reuters.
Tatev, a former high school history teacher who came to the United States when she was 14, told Reuters she went home to rest and the contractions stopped. Pre-labor contractions, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, are common in the days or weeks leading up to a woman’s due date. The contractions mimic true labor, but they eventually wane.
“I sped up this process because of the fact of the current president, because the immigration laws are under attack,” Tatev, who stays home to take care of her 2-year-old daughter, told Reuters. She said she was scared she would lose her green card, which made her a legal permanent resident.
Tatev told Reuters she was also afraid that if she were not a citizen, her new child might not have automatic citizenship rights. Trump on Wednesday said his administration is “very seriously” considering ending birthright citizenship for U.S.-born children of noncitizens.
Trump has spoken before about eradicating birthright citizenship, a constitutional right that he has called “frankly ridiculous.” Such a move would almost definitely trigger a legal fight over the commonly accepted interpretation of the 14th Amendment as granting citizenship to all children born in the United States.
The birthright-citizenship proposal is one of many the Trump administration has put forth to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and especially to stem the flow of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The president has repeatedly promised to construct a wall at the border, and his administration has attempted to deter migrants in several ways, including by revoking certain legal rights of detained migrant children and teenagers.
Tatev told Reuters she was frustrated with immigration policies that create a long road to permanent residency and then citizenship.
She asked: “If he [Trump] doesn’t like what’s happening, why don’t we pass better policies that make it a little easier for people to go through this process instead of having to sneak into this country and go through so many horrible experiences?”