Oct 182007
Authors: Daily FortyNiner

(U-WIRE) LONG BEACH, Calif. – For the millions of immigrants who live in this country, becoming a naturalized citizen means that the full circle of achievement, of dreams and goals, has been reached.

To receive that treasured piece of paper that officially declares their new American citizenship means they have finally reached the epitome of national assimilation.

A new batch of questions that have been added to the civics test hopeful citizens must pass in order to become naturalized are worrying a few immigration activists.

Rather than following the past memorize-and-spew format, the new questions will require a bit more critical thinking and ask more in-depth questions.

But when the lives of hard-working people leave little time to study the 100-something new questions, we have to wonder if the exams are intentionally setting applicants up for failure. Applicants must answer six out of ten randomly chosen questions.

Of course, immigration authorities are quick to say that the redesign is in no way intended to keep legal residents from applying, or to set them up for failure.

When Utah’s Deseret Morning News asked a few citizens by birthright some of the same questions that would-be American citizens will be asked, half couldn’t give correct answers. These were American citizens mind you.

Some questions Americans missed were, “What does the President’s Cabinet do?” and “What is one thing only a state government can do?”

The whole point of the test’s redesign is to make applicants think about what certain events in American history means questions such as “What tragic event happened on Sept. 11?”

But if American-born citizens cannot answer the questions, why should non-citizens be punished for the same failure? “If they really want it, they’ll work harder for it,” was a repeated response from American patriots.

American-born citizens have their entire lives to learn these facts of history. These newcomers are only given a short period of time to memorize and recite what many of us survived the public school system try to learn.

This caveat will especially affect those who come from low-income families, since they might have little or no time to study. Working low-wage jobs for mega hours to provide meager survival has a tendency to keep your nose out of books.

We’re all for exercising the mind and having these new Americans realize their potential as citizens in the land of opportunity.

We’ve come a long way in immigration policies. We no longer deny citizenship because of the color of skin, or take away American women’s citizenship because they marry someone from another country.

In many cases, the new questions are like making that freshman explain what valence shell electrons are, after cramming for a few weeks.

At least one question on the new exam is errant. No. 113 requests of the hopeful citizen: “Name one war fought in the United States in the 1900s.” The correct answer is none, but it’s not an option. But of course, you knew that, didn’t you?

It isn’t fair to add another layer of barriers in order to reach the American dream.

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