January 5, 2007

In the scope of things, I grant you that this is not that big a deal. However, as a second generation American, I have found frequently that immigrants have a far better understanding of our system of government than natural born citizens. However, I do think that it's sad that the people charged with granting citizenship would be so inadequate to creating a test.

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With much fanfare, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service recently announced the introduction of a redesigned naturalization test. Trumpeted as a great improvement over the old examination, the new format will "focus on the concepts of democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship." Some critics and immigrants' rights advocates have complained that the new citizenship test is too demanding, asking questions that nearly all Americans, whether native born or naturalized, would be hard-pressed to answer. But the degree of difficulty is not the only problem.
The pilot test and the approved answers (as posted on the USCIS Web site) are riddled with misinformation, inaccuracies and outright errors. As many as 19 of the 144 questions are flawed. They either are woefully ambiguous, or accept simplistic answers that are factually wrong, or exclude answers that are clearly correct. While none of the individual mistakes is earthshaking, the wrong answers will mislead earnest citizenship applicants who use the pilot test as a study guide. It will distort the constitutional understanding of thousands of would-be Americans, and actually penalize those who are the most serious students of the Constitution.

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