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					Tennessee Voices: Why U.S. citizenship test should be this demanding - Sunday, 10/21/07                                                  Page 1 of 2

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  Tennessee Voices: Why U.S. citizenship test should be
  this demanding
                                               By LINDA ROSE, Esq.

                                               Published: Sunday, 10/21/07

                                               In the face of a strong wave of anti-immigration sentiment,
                                               the immigration service recently implemented a revised test
                                               for citizenship. We invested $6.5 million over a six-year
                                               period to redesign the civics and history test questions.
                                               Some immigration proponents think the questions are too
                                               tough; those with anti-immigration views complain the
                                               questions are too easy. I for one think the new civics test is

                                          The test for U.S. citizenship should be demanding. And for
                                          the most part, it is. Who is the speaker of the House? Who
                                          was president during World War I? But like most tests,
    Linda Rose
                                          some of it's a slam-dunk. (Now there's a question that
                                          should be on the test: "What is the meaning of the term
  "slam dunk"? What good American doesn't know the answer to that one?). The new test, however,
  serves only a small part of a very complicated process. So let's not focus on the new civics test. Let's
  focus on the larger picture.

  What most people don't understand is that the oral examination isn't the only test of citizenship.

  The hardest part of the test spans a five-year period. It begins on the day the individual becomes a
  Lawful Permanent Resident ("green card" holder). Bear in mind that no foreign national is eligible to
  apply to become a U.S. citizen without first becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident. During the
  five-year period, the foreign national must maintain good moral character at all times.

  The immigration standard for good moral character is significantly heightened for a would-be citizen
  than for the average person. Digging without a license for clams at a public beach? Bad moral
  character. Failure to disclose membership in the foreign country's equivalent of the Boy Scouts? Bad
  moral character.

  But good moral character isn't the only part of the test. Then the applicant has to demonstrate s/he
  has been physically present in the U.S. for at least 2½ years of that five-year period. Try to
  document the records of a high-level business executive who travels weekly as a part of his job to
  keep a U.S. company alive and healthy.

  The individual desirous of becoming a U.S. citizen has to monitor and dampen his or her travel
  plans, even if it's bad for business, so s/he can lay the groundwork for U.S. citizenship. And not only
  does the applicant have to prove physical presence, s/he has to cut short trips that would place him
  or her outside the U.S. for too long a period.

  A Lawful Permanent Resident can lose that status very easily if s/he travels for an extended period
  of time. Imagine if you couldn't attend your grandmother's funeral or take that six-month sabbatical
  you wanted because it would place you outside the U.S. too long for citizenship.

  I also should mention the monetary cost

  To accompany the 10-page application, the citizenship applicant now must include the government
  fee of $675. Add to that $2,000 to $3,000 (maybe more) in attorney fees. 10/25/2007
Tennessee Voices: Why U.S. citizenship test should be this demanding - Sunday, 10/21/07                   Page 2 of 2

  If the process weren't so complicated, maybe attorney services wouldn't be necessary, but for many
  people it's a must.

  And of course, don't forget the ability to read, write, speak and understand the English language.
  Imagine if you are an 80-year-old trying to learn a new language.

  The strain of learning a brand-new language is nothing to scoff at. And finally, consider that the
  foreign national faces discrimination and anti-immigration sentiment every single day.

  Knowledge of U.S. civics. An analytic understanding of our government and history. A squeaky
  clean record. Physical presence, even if it means missing a family funeral or slumping company
  sales. Escalating government fees. Lawyers fees. Command of the English language. And an
  enduring anti-immigration sentiment in the face of a show of loyalty to this country. This is why the
  "citizenship test" is so demanding.

  Published: Sunday, 10/21/07 10/25/2007

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