Tag: citizenship test

Summing Up Our Favorite Topic

It’s the end of the year. So let’s address immigration one last time.

Listen, if you don’t know by now that most Americans support a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, well, I can’t help you.

But I will point out that President Obama’s recent executive decision doesn’t offer an actual route to citizenship. I know, I know. You heard that this was amnesty and the end of America and all that. But the people who are telling you this lie don’t know the difference between amnesty and Amway.

Basically, the administration is deferring the deportation of undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens or legal residents. The order also expands protection to more children who entered the country illegally with their parents (that’s right — the Dreamers). The president’s decision could mean that up to 5 million undocumented people will be allowed to stay in the country, without threat of deportation.

More than half of the undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America are now eligible to remain in America. But again, they would not be eligible for citizenship.

It’s not surprising that Latinos overwhelmingly agree with Obama’s approach. One poll shows that 90% of Hispanics support the president’s plan. Wow, you can’t even get 90% of us to agree that Shakira is hot (she is, by the way).

shakira 99
Now, undocumented immigrants themselves almost universally desire a way to legalize their situation. But many of the immigrants who are eligible for citizenship aren’t taking advantage of the offer. In fact, less than 10% of the 8.5 million immigrants who are eligible for naturalization have applied so far.

Why is this? Well, some still struggle with English, and they don’t feel confident they could pass the English-proficiency language exam. Others can’t afford the naturalization process, which usually costs $680 and is often multiplied by several family members.

Some still intend to return to their homelands, even if they have been in America for years. And yet others are afraid that it’s all a scam, and that some notario will fleece them. Remember, con artists love to take advantage of hopeful, desperate people who are reluctant to report fraud.

OK, so immigrants — Hispanic or otherwise — aren’t necessarily in a big rush to become citizens. But having the option is more than a nicety. You see, undocumented people who live in constant fear of being deported exist in a perpetual hell. And if you don’t care about that, perhaps you will care about the chain reaction of misery that cascades down upon actual citizens.

For example, many Latinos — born and raised in America — haven’t signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, because they worry that doing so could cause family members to be deported. They’re concerned that giving detailed info online will cause the INS to come knocking on their door. That’s not true, of course, but it’s understandable. And that has a very real effect on the ACA’s effectiveness and our health care system in general.

Oh wait, if you hate the president’s executive order, you probably hate Obamacare too.

Well, that explains a few things.


Born in the US of A

Not so long ago, life was easy for xenophobes. They could slander Latinos and immigrants simultaneously, because they were thought of as one and the same. Also, there weren’t that many Hispanics around, so one could spew within the comfort of an imposing majority.

Well, the Pew Research Center just made everything more difficult for the narrow-minded among us. The organization recently announced that the U.S.-born Latino population is growing at a faster rate than the immigrant population. This means that Hispanics are now more likely to be born and raised in America, as full-blooded American citizens.

This also means bigots will have to supplement their rants about undocumented immigrants with plain old racist tirades, thus doubling their effort.

At the very least, when told to “go back where you came from,” Latinos are likely to deflate the assertion with something like, “You mean, go back to Wisconsin?”


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Bonus Points If You Can Sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” In Its Proper Key

First, thanks to Gigi for her passionate comment on my post “Dogma Vs. Cheese.”

Second, let me return to the subject of my previous post, in which I advocated for amending the U.S. Constitution. I argued that being born in America should not be sufficient for citizenship. My idea is that people who want to be citizens should have to pass a test, just like naturalized immigrants do. One’s birthplace or family history would have nothing to do with it.

The piece was also published on the Huffington Post. There, I received dozens of comments, ranging from the thoughtful to the shrill. Joining the fray were conservatives who thought I was joking and liberals who said I supported literacy tests for voting. Because I pissed off individuals across the political spectrum, I figure that I must be on to something.

As an addendum to that post, let me point out that the U.S. government has recently reformatted the citizenship test. Now it’s less of a hodgepodge of rote and trivial questions, such as “How many stars are on the flag?”

There’s more of an emphasis on content, with questions like “What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?” In essence, you have to think a little more now.

It’s impossible to know how effective the test is unless one actually takes it. And nobody is going to devote the time, money, and stress to do that unless they absolutely have to. But there are a number of online study guides that give us a taste of what immigrants have to master.

For example, here’s the government’s official guidance on becoming an American.

Sadly, it doesn’t include tips on maintaining a hostile relationship with your next-door neighbor, or which flatscreen television you should buy that you can’t possibly afford. Clearly, there are some all-American concepts that immigrants will just have to learn on their own.

But my main argument stands: Immigrants have to learn about our country and prove their worthiness to stay, so we native-born citizens should have to as well.

In any case, if you’re so smart and bursting with patriotic vigor, let’s see how you would do on the new citizenship exam. Here’s a sample of the test.

Give it a shot, and try to imagine that your entire future rests on how well you perform on this exam.

You don’t have to tell me your score. 

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