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Uncle Sam issues tough citizenship test

September 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Beginning Wednesday, Uncle Sam is going to be administering new tests for those immigrants who want to become American citizens. And they're going to have to show a deeper understanding of U.S. history and government.Immigration advocates are worried that the new test is harder and designed to "weed out" immigrants. But, immigration officials say it's not harder, it's just different.

If you're hoping to become a U.S. citizen, government-issued civics flash cards could be your passport to the promised land.

"What are two rights of everyone who lives in the United States?" read Jane Arellano, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, from one of the flash cards.

Arellano says the cards are just one way to help potential Americans become true American, right-hand-over-the-heart Americans.

However, getting to that point may be tough. The government is changing its Naturalization Test. Multiple choice questions are out and more nuanced questions are in. That's something immigration-rights activists aren't too happy about.

"This process shouldn't be getting harder. It should be becoming easier so more people can become citizens of the United States," said Angelica Salas, an immigration-rights activist.

"I think everybody's fearful of this test being harder. It's not harder. But it is better," said Arellano.

Eyewitness News had some long-time Americans pluck some cards from the deck to see how they would do.

"What was one important thing that Abraham Lincoln did?" read Scott Pena from one of the flash cards. "He freed the slaves," he answered correctly.

"Who is in charge of the Executive Branch?" read San Diego resident David Harris from a flash card. "The president," he answered correctly.

"Who is the father of our country?" read Amanda Wright from a card.
"Couldn't even tell you," Amanda answered at first.
However, she finally answered "George Washington" correctly.

If you take the real test, you will have to answer 10 similar questions. To pass, you have to get six questions right.

The flash cards cost about $13.

Over the last year 179,000 people became citizens in the Los Angeles area alone. Only about 20,000 people failed the test and couldn't become American citizens.

 

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