'All my friends in Washington said, "There is one thing you can do: fight."'
Sir Patrick Stewart is a man of many roles, but it's his latest that might be the most daring of all: American citizen.
While on "The View" to discuss what it was like playing Charles Xavier one final time in "Logan," Stewart announced that, after 30 years as a permanent resident of the U.S., he's decided to pursue citizenship.
Citing a desire to "fight" back against the Trump administration and its policies, the 76-year-old is taking a leap that will likely have him ready to cast votes in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
If he doesn't like Trump, why would he want to become a citizen? Aren't people packing up and moving to Canada? So, about that...
It may come as a shock, but though many people make sweeping pronouncements about leaving the country if a certain politician gets elected or a specific policy becomes law, few actually do it. In 2010, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh pledged to move to Costa Rica if the Affordable Care Act became law (a bit of irony: Limbaugh slammed the ACA as being "socialized medicine," while Costa Rica offers actual socialized medicine). During the 2016 election, a number of celebrities suggested they'd move to Canada in the event of a Trump victory.
As it stands, Limbaugh still lives in the U.S, and there hasn't been some mass exodus from Hollywood in the wake of Trump's win. And for good reason.
For one, it's actually really hard for Americans to become Canadian citizens. To most people, it's simply not worth the time, money, and hassle to pack up and move to a new country just because you don't like a politician.
Beyond that, escaping American policies isn't as simple as crossing a border — something Stewart has noted on social media before.
"What the White House does ripples round the world," he tweeted in 2015. He's right. What the U.S. does affects the rest of the globe, just as an action taken by another global superpower like China, the United Kingdom, or Russia, affects the U.S.
What the White House does ripples round the world. I am in NYC, working. Not as a U.S. Citizen. I'm a Resident Alien (no jokes) of the USA.— Patrick Stewart (@Patrick Stewart)1442451660.0
How any one country reacts to some issues, such as climate change, will affect us all. In short, most issues caused by politicians aren't simply things we can run from. That's why Stewart's approach makes so much sense.
It is worth noting the privilege Stewart has to be able to simply decide he wants to become a U.S. citizen. What may be easy for him isn't so easy for people with fewer resources.
And that's why we need real, comprehensive immigration reform. Just this week, a 22-year-old woman named Daniela Vargas was arrested and will be deported without a hearing. Though undocumented, Vargas was here as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. She was waiting on her DACA renewal to come through when she was detained.
The current immigration system makes it easy for well-off celebrities like Stewart to become citizens (which could take as little as a few months in his particular case), but doesn't offer a pathway to citizenship for people like Vargas. That needs to change. Still, it's good to see that Stewart is doing what he can to join in the fight for what he believes in with his voice and with his vote.