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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


Legal immigrants are already required to know about American principles and history than native-born Americans can bother themselves to learn. Now, they will be even further ahead of us:

For the first time in two decades, the U.S. citizenship test has been revamped—and the new version, which will be unveiled this week for use starting Oct. 1, 2008, will mark a profound shift in what it takes to become an American. Gone are many of the old trivia-style questions such as "How many stripes are on the American flag?" They've been replaced by queries that focus on concepts rather than facts—for instance, "Why does the flag have 13 stripes?" The new test, 10 years in the making at a price tag of $6.5 million, will also cover subjects such as "checks and balances," "inalienable rights" and other constitutional ideas.

Driving the change is the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which wants to create "patriots" and not just naturalized residents out of the more than 500,000 immigrants who become citizens each year. "What's at stake is really the survival of our democracy," says Alfonso Aguilar, head of the Office of Citizenship. "If we don't strengthen our assimilation efforts, then 20 or 30 years down the road we may have a dysfunctional society."

If we get the right kind of people -- those who want to assimilate because they share American values -- then it shouldn't matter where they come from or (up to a certain point) how many there are. So, fine, make them know more than we do, but let's stop being so stingy with the quotas.

While, of course, doing something about illegal immigration, which is the real source of our assmilation problems and the threat to the American identity. In a way, we're making the immigrants who try to do it the right way pay for our lack of willingness to deal with those who do it the wrong way.


Thu, 09/27/2007 - 9:49am

While I agree with most of the comments on this (incredibly pricey) change of the citizenship test, to say that "in 20 or 30 years down the road, we may have a dysfunctional society", is to miss the obvious fact that that particular ship has already sailed.

Barry Wiggins
Thu, 09/27/2007 - 2:06pm

"So, fine, make them know more than we do, but let

A J Bogle
Fri, 09/28/2007 - 7:13am

Greedspan and other neocons are advocating increasing the number of H1B visa holders to help drive down middle class wages as a way to slow the wage disparity - by pulling down the middle class and leaving the wealthy untouched, rather than pulling up the lower and middle class.

H1B workers also facilitate outsourcing because over half of the visas are awarded to outsourcing companies - these guys come in and learn US business, and become exposed to intellectual property and processes - and take them back to the home country to help a multinational set up shop, or start their own companies to unfairly compete.

H1Bs are also a deterent to US students pursuing technical degrees because they are then foced to compete with lower wage workers for the limited pool of jobs.

I agree with Mr Wiggins that we need to slow down the inflow of immigrants both legal and illegal, and be smarter about who we are letting in and what they are bringing to the table.