Trump Administration To Toughen Citizenship Test?

Among other suggestions for policy change at the beginning of the Trump Administration, from expanding Expedited Removal, to adding citizenship to the Census, to shutting down the border, to having illegal aliens wait for hearings in Mexico, someone in the Trump Administration has been reading my advice, and someone has been trying to get my advice up to the important people.  Sadly, attempts, as with the citizenship question, have been delayed and bungled, others just delayed, but in the end they come back to my advice.   Why, because it will work in solving the illegal immigration problem.

An example of better late than never is that the Trump Administration has finally gotten around to the problem with the current citizenship test.  As background, the test is a joke.  The citizenship test for those applying for citizenship consists of 10 questions and a passing score is 6 correct answers.  And the questions are mostly irrelevant.  What is the name of one of the U.S. Senators in your State?  How many stars has the American flag?  Nothing of significance and of little value to patriotic assimilation.

The important part of the citizenship test though is that the test itself is largely under the purview of the Executive Branch; how many questions, what is the passing score, what are the subjects covered, and the difficulty.  I advised the then incoming Trump Administration to toughen the test, requiring legal permanent residents applying for naturalization to take the test seriously and be required to learn what America really is.

One of Kobach’s first acts should be the immediate reform of the U.S. Citizenship American history examination. Currently legal permanent residents applying for citizenship must pass a written examination consisting of 10 questions, of which they must get a mere 6 correct. Basically, D students are being rewarded with American citizenship. Worse yet, applicants are given the answers ahead of time with an official study guide with a list of the 100 questions that the 10 questions are chose from. Furthermore, the questions are given to the alien in a private interview with an Immigration Services Officer (ISO) at USCIS, with corresponding opportunities for corruption or nonfeasance on the part of the officer, a problem all too common at USCIS.

The new Secretary of DHS should instruct the Director of USCIS to immediately change the exam process, suspending the administration of the required written exam, and appointing distinguished historian, such as Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College, to revamp and expand the written examination to a 200 question multiple choice examination properly administered and proctored based on the Advance Placement Examination in American History from the College Board.

The written examination is required by legislation, but the nature of the examination is in the sole authority of the Secretary of DHS and not subject to judicial review. So, with a pen and a phone, President Trump and his DHS Secretary can immediately implement a program of assimilation and Americanization. Requiring citizenship applicants to actually study American history in detail will go a long way to assimilating those who at this time only have to obtain minimal skills in English or in civics. It will have the beneficial aspect of keeping the worst groups of immigrants, those with low intelligence and achievement, and the most likely to vote Democrat in the future, from naturalizing as most will be neither interested in nor able to absorb the curriculum of a real examination in American history and civics.

[What Trump Can Do Immediately, By Executive Order: Re-Americanize The Citizenship Test, by Federale, VDare, November 22, 2016]

There will be challenges of course.  Sadly, and without reason, the Trump Administration caved on the citizenship question on the census.  The new USCIS Director, Ken Cuccinelli, will need to be made of sterner stuff.  But this is a long-term mission, to make immigrants better Americans, and to keep immigrants from electing a new people with a more difficult citizenship examination.

And it appears that is the plan, or something close to it.

If you were to take the test to become a U.S. citizen tomorrow, you might be asked to name one of five U.S. territories, or two of the rights contained in the Declaration of Independence, or to provide the correct number of amendments to the Constitution.

The naturalization test is a crucial part of an immigrant’s journey to becoming an American. And, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, it is meant not just as a measure of U.S. civics knowledge, but also as a reason to study and absorb the principles, values and functions of the U.S. government, including the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship…

The Trump administration is planning to update the test, and a new version is slated to debut before the end of President Trump’s first term, officials said Friday. A pilot test should be available this fall.

USCIS officials are offering few details about the changes to the test, which was last revised in 2008. Officers who administer the exam now pose as many as 10 randomly generated questions to each applicant from a list of 100 in three categories: American government, American history and integrated civics (geography, symbols and holidays). The questions are not intended to trip up applicants — they are published and available for all to study.

[Trump Administration Planning Changes To U.S. Citizenship Test, by Abigail Hauslohner, WaPo, July 19, 2019]

And the open borders crowd is concerned.  They know the naturalization examination is within the sole authority of the President and his subordinates.  That will bring lawsuits.

With the executive branch able to control the test, and with Trump making it clear that he wants to dramatically change the nation’s immigration policies and laws, how the White House approaches new questions or the test’s format could become an object of scrutiny.

There will be continued accusations of racism and worries about immigrants from non-white countries.  The Administration will need to do better than the census citizenship issue.  A well developed and quickly deployed naturalization examination could significantly decrease the number of naturalization and prevent the election of a new people.

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