The new US citizenship test

obsession with battles and wars

constitutionYou may have heard about the new citizenship test that went into effect in the past month. Immigrant advocates have called it more difficult than previous versions. “Iit is longer, more nuanced and, in some questions, has a tinge of politics.” According to Politico, it’s full of conservative bias – and dotted with mistakes.

“The previous iteration of the test, last revised in 2008, required applicants to answer six of 10 questions, drawn from a pool of only 100.” Now it’s 12 out of 20. “Several new questions call for biographical details about Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Dwight Eisenhower.” “Another asks for ‘the purpose of the 10th Amendment.'” Please go to the nearest intersection and ask random people to describe Amendment 10. If you get more than one in ten, I’ll be shocked.

Let’s say your first citizenship test question is “Who does a U.S. senator represent?” In 2020, “the only approved answers from the USCIS study guide, now embodying the [regime’s] revisionist approach to government. ‘No, it’s not all people of their state — the ONLY acceptable answer has been changed to CITIZENS of their state.'”

Even more rights than that

65. What are three rights of everyone living in the United States?

• Freedom of expression
• Freedom of speech
• Freedom of assembly
• Freedom to petition the government
• Freedom of religion
• The right to bear arms

“Notably missing from the UCSIS answer list are the rights to counsel, due process, equal protection, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment or unreasonable search and seizure. An aspiring citizen who gave one of those responses could presumably be marked wrong” on the oral test.

“There are other problems with the civics test, including its unnecessary complexity, its obsession with battles and wars… Only a single answer set includes any women by name (there are 11 naming men). The word ‘democracy’ appears just once. The first section on the 2008 test was titled ‘Principles of American Democracy,’ now ominously replaced by ‘Principles of American Government.'”

The regime’s discriminatory legacy on immigrant rights is intact.

I should note, once again, that immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy in many ways. “They work at high rates and make up more than a third of the workforce in some industries… Immigrant workers help support the aging native-born population, increasing the number of workers as compared to retirees and bolstering the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. And children born to immigrant families are upwardly mobile, promising future benefits not only to their families but to the U.S. economy overall.”

Oh, yeah, What IS the purpose of the 10th Amendment? (It states that the) powers not given to the federal government belong to the states or to the people.

N is for nativism versus immigration

“Illegal” immigration has always been a red herring.

There have have always been nativism movements in the United States. Seldom has been as blatant as it’s been the past year and a quarter. In February 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director L. Francis Cissna announced that the agency changed its mission statement from:

“USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”

To now:

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”

The aspirational angle has been lost.

By contrast, “During the 1940s, America basically underwent a nationwide sensitivity training program. Zoe Burkholder, a historian of education, writes… that a ‘forced tolerance’ movement had begun frothing a decade earlier as educators feared that scientific racism—the pseudoscientific ‘Master Race’ theories brewing in Germany—could waft overseas.” A reasonable worry, evidently.

Thus the story about the Superman pic shown. (Hey, wasn’t he an illegal alien?) What I do know is that the current regime’s attitude is troublesome.

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn notes: “The part where Jesus says to welcome the stranger is not a suggestion, it is a directive.”

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein writes that Ronald Reagan “not only celebrating the concept of welcoming people from all sorts of places during his kickoff of the fall campaign, but arguing that it was immigrants who helped build the country and it was the dream that they embodied that was what made America great.” The GOP icon didn’t believe in nativism.

In other words, the US Needs ‘sh*thole’ countries, not the other way around. “America’s prosperity and security are greatly dependent on the goodwill and cooperation of other nations, developed and emerging markets alike.”

That would include chain migration, or family reunification.

Read former President Obama on immigration from September 2017

A pastor friend of mine noted recently, “I am thinking this morning of good people, great Americans I know, who have come here from Haiti, [various African countries], Pakistan, Philippines. These Americans contribute to the greater good of the US… [they] have worked hard, learned to live in an often-less-than-friendly new place, raised strong families, and sent their kids to college so they can also contribute to society… You ARE the American People.”

As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting.

The Weekly Sift guy nailed it when he wrote about The Real Immigration Issue: “‘Illegal’ immigration has always been a red herring. The more fundamental question is whether the United States will continue to be a country dominated by English-speaking white Christians.” Will nativism continue to push back?

For a brief historic perspective, read Becoming a Citizen: Naturalization Records, 1850 – 1930

For ABC Wednesday

Citizenship question on the 2020 Census

Being an old Census geek – I was an enumerator, going door to door in 1990 – I was rather appalled when the U.S. Census Bureau delivered its planned questions for the 2020 Census to Congress, which include age, sex, Hispanic origin, race, relationship, homeownership status, and citizenship status.

Ron Jarmin, who is “performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau” said, correctly: “The goal of the census is to count every person living in the United States once, only once and in the right place… The census asks just a few questions and takes about 10 minutes to respond.

“For the first time, you can choose to respond online, by phone or by mail.” They REALLY want you to answer it online because it’s cheaper for them, which means it’s cheaper for American taxpayers.

“The 2020 Census is easy, safe and important.” It will be incredibly easy. It is incredibly important too. “Data from the census and American Community Survey directly affect how more than $675 billion per year in federal and state funding are allocated to local, state and tribal governments. The data are also vital to other planning decisions, such as emergency preparedness and disaster recovery.”

But is the 2020 Census safe?

Stealing from Bob Scardamalia, former chief demographer for New York State:

“To many, using the Census to ask every individual in the country whether or not they are a citizen probably seems like a sensible thing to do. After all, isn’t the Census used to determine political representation and shouldn’t representation be based on citizens? Well, NO!

“Since we’re so concerned about Constitutional language these days, the Constitution says nothing about representation applying only to citizens. The Census Bureau is to count EVERYONE resident in the country at Census time regardless of legal status or citizenship… I’ve spent most of my professional life working with the Census Bureau and on Census issues and this proposal is dead wrong.

“Let’s be clear. We do already learn about citizenship through surveys and it is true that many previous censuses” – e,g., the long form from 1970 through 2000 – “have had questions on citizenship and various forms of identification of foreign-born population and naturalization. In the 2010 Census, that disappeared from the every 10 year Census because citizenship was captured in the American Community Survey starting in 2005.”

The ACS is an annual survey that provides key socioeconomic and housing statistics about the nation’s rapidly changing population every year. The old Census long form, and the current ACS, ask of a sample of residents, at numbers large enough to be statistically valid.

“The administration’s proposal is ostensibly to get more accurate data but this proposal does the exact opposite. It will heighten the fear among immigrants and non-citizens that has been growing and will keep them from responding to the Census – which they, and all of us, are legally required to do. The Secretary [of Commerce Wilbur Ross] indicated that it’s better to have the data on citizenship and risk people not complying with this legal requirement. Did he just say, violate the law? Did he just tell people to not respond?

“Another point to be clear about. The Secretary’s expressed reason for pushing this forward is for the enforcement goals of the Department of Justice. The Census data – your response – is confidential, period. The President can not get access to your responses. Census employees are subject to imprisonment and fines (up to $250,000) for disclosing your data.

“The data that DOJ wants is for non-citizens residing in each and every one of 11 million census blocks and with that data, they can find individuals who are non-citizens. That, my friends, is illegal. That is what enforcement means and this proposal should not stand in the courts.”

As the Times Union (Albany, NY) noted:

“Experts say that many [immigrants], regardless of whether they are in this country legally, may not respond to the census out of fear. That could lead to significant undercounting, particularly in states with large immigrant populations…

“That, in turn, could diminish those states’ seats in the House of Representatives, whose 435 districts are drawn on the basis of the census, and in the Electoral College, which is based on Congressional representation…

“On a practical level, this is about money: States and localities with undercounts could find themselves shortchanged on federal aid, forcing them to cut programs or raise taxes.

“But the long-term damage would be to democracy itself…. it’s about rigging elections. It should be of grave concern to anyone who understands the implications of one party being able to game the political system to amass for itself more power.”

At least five former directors of the Census Bureau, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents, have written a letter opposing the citizenship question in the 2020 Census. 12 states or more are moving to sue the regime over its plans.

Constitution Day 2015

Eliminating birthright citizenship… It implies a reckless urge to break down ancient legal principles without inquiring why those traditions existed in the first place.

Close up of the Constitution of the United States of America with quil feather pen
Close up of the Constitution of the United States of America with quill feather pen

Constitution Day is tomorrow, so I found some articles from the previous 12 months, pulling out quotes, to commemorate it. I suggest you read the whole article.

Civics For Dummies: Judicial Review
People who dislike particular court rulings often imagine that this power of judicial review wasn’t in the Founders’ original vision at all; somewhere along the line the Supreme Court just usurped it. But in fact, the Founders foresaw judicial review and approval.

How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment
“‘One loves to possess arms’ wrote Thomas Jefferson, the premier intellectual of his day, to George Washington on June 19, 1796.” What a find! Oops: Jefferson was not talking about guns. He was writing to Washington asking for copies of some old letters, to have handy so he could issue a rebuttal in case he got attacked for a decision he made as secretary of state. The NRA website still includes the quote. You can go online to buy a T-shirt emblazoned with Jefferson’s mangled words.

Opinion analysis: Reasonable mistakes of law by police do not violate the Fourth Amendment
The vague word “unreasonable” in the Fourth Amendment is a lawyer’s playground, and questions about what sort of circumstances constitutionally permit law enforcement seizures have thus plagued the federal courts since the Fourth Amendment was adopted.

Arizona, the Supreme Court and the End of Gerrymandering
In the fullness of time, it all wound up in litigation, in a wrangle over the definition of the word “legislature” that eventually reached the Supreme Court. What is a “legislature,” exactly? Is it a body of elected officials? Is it a body appointed by the people to perform a specific legal purpose? Can it be both?

Nothing Is More “Conservative” Than Birthright Citizenship
Make no mistake, eliminating birthright citizenship would require an overthrow of established traditions. It implies a reckless urge to break down ancient legal principles without inquiring why those traditions existed in the first place. In short, it requires precisely the sort of thing conservatives are supposed to be against.

The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked
Even amidst this dark history, certain justices stand out as particularly mean-spirited, ideological, or unconcerned about their duty to follow the text of the Constitution.

Citizen Zhang

swearing in

Jinshui Zhang, one of my co-workers, became a U.S. citizen last month. He was one of 63 people from 36 countries to become naturalized. He was from the People’s Republic of China.

The event was held in the Federal Building, a former post office right across the street from our office. While I went to the building often in its previous incarnation, I’ve rarely been there recently. One goes through a metal detector, not unlike the ones at the airport. The security personnel are not as humorless as the airport workers, and they accepted my work ID, which the airport almost never does.

The ceremony was scheduled for 8:30 a.m., but at that hour, there was a long line of people waiting in line to get their paperwork checked. This process took over a half an hour. I was told that they used to have fewer people naturalized at more frequent intervals, but now have more people but less frequently as a result of 9/11/2001 concerns. How this helps security screening, I don’t know.

Photos allowed

There was a big sign at the entrance to the building prohibiting cameras, but apparently the ban doesn’t apply to this particular event. So folks were able to run across the street and retrieve their photographic equipment without missing anything.

An officer from Homeland Security was cheerfully goofy in explaining what was going to happen. I got the sense that he had other duties in his job that weren’t nearly so pleasant.

The ceremony itself started at 9:30, with the judge giving his well wishes, etc. He introduced the representatives from the League of Women Voters, who were, by that point, actually out in the hall waiting to give out materials to encourage the new citizens to vote (something native-born citizens could do well to do better at). He also introduced four ladies from the Daughters of the American Revolution (more on them some other time), who gave out flags, pins and other paraphernalia.

A lawyer sang a couple of patriotic songs, the latter, God Bless America, with the assembled crowd. He wasn’t bad, for a lawyer.

Then the swearing-in took place. The folks running the show, the judge, the court clerk, and especially the Homeland Security officer, were very effusive in their care of the new Americans.

Everyone in the office knew that Jinshui studied hard to take the written test. I noted to one of my co-workers that I doubted that most native-born Americans could pass it. Try it yourself.

Congratulations, Jinshui!