Published in the Rains County Leader on November 10, 2022
Dirk Schutter, resident of Rains County since 2001, has been a citizen of the United States since 1960. But because of an expired driver’s license and three missing digits on a bureaucratic form, he is now classified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as “lawful presence not verified.”
Schutter was born in Wilp, Holland on July 18, 1937. When he was twelve years old, in order to find a better quality of life for their children and better healthcare for Dirk who was recovering from polio, his family immigrated to the United States. This was during a time when immigrants were required to have a U.S. sponsor who would guarantee a place to live and a job for at least five years. Upon arrival in New York, new arrivals were processed through Ellis Island before being sent to join their sponsors. In the Schutters’ case, their sponsor was in Terrell, Texas.
Schutter had completed the fifth grade in Holland, but he spoke almost no English. Instead of making special provision for his lack of language skill, the school system dropped him back to first grade. He learned quickly and almost caught up to grade level, graduating from high school at the age of twenty. By that time, he had met Patricia Moore and had fallen in love. However, her mother wouldn’t allow her daughter to marry a non-citizen, fearing he would take her back to Holland. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Schutter attended naturalization classes, and on August 29, 1960, he became a citizen of his adopted country.(more…)