According to an Associated Press story in today’s Dallas Morning News, Citizenship and Immigration Services has released a new civics test for immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship. There are 144 revised questions. Excerpts from the story:
The draft questions will be tried out on immigrant volunteers in 10 cities early next year. Gonzalez was not ready to give specific dates. Applicants must verbally answer six of 10 questions right to pass the civics portion of the test. The questions will be tried out early next year in Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Denver; El Paso; Kansas City, Mo.; Miami; San Antonio; Tucson, Ariz.; and Yakima, Wash.
The government wants the citizenship test to require a better understanding of America’s history and government institutions. It expects to spend about $6.5 million to make the changes, said Alfonso Aguilar, director of the citizenship office.
The redesign is aimed at making sure applicants know the meaning behind some of America’s fundamental institutions, said Chris Rhatigan, an agency spokeswoman.
The questions will go into use in the pilot cities before advocacy groups get a chance to point out any problems or concerns. After the questions are tested, the agency plans to spend a year examining results and reviewing the questions with groups with expertise and interest in the tests.
Another possible question would delve into the history of the Civil War. Applicants are now asked, What was the Emancipation Proclamation?
Current applicants need to know that it freed the slaves. In the future, however, prospective citizens will need to have a deeper understanding of the Civil War and name one of the problems that led to it.
Immigration advocates want to ensure that the new test does not make becoming a citizen more difficult, while groups that want to control immigration want to ensure newcomers are not simply memorizing information.
My guess is that about half of native-born U.S. citizens would fail the proposed test.