When immigrants wish to become naturalized United States citizens, they are expected to take an exam administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before being approved.
This seems fair enough, until one considers the fact many natural-born citizens would have problems answering the questions on this exam.
A basic understanding of U.S. history and government is necessary to successfully pass the exam, but the average American knows very little about the history of his or her country.
Questions on the exam are chosen from a variety of options, including “Who becomes president in the event that both the current president and vice-president can no longer serve?” and “Name one of the writers of the Federalist Papers, which supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution,” according to www.uscis.gov.
For some, these questions seem entirely fair to ask someone who wishes to become a U.S. citizen, but the question remains: Why do so many current citizens know so little about this country?
In a 2009 episode of “Hannity,” which stars conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, Steven Crowder from PJTV was interviewed about an experiment he did walking around the streets of Los Angeles. Crowder went up to passersby and asked them the name of the vice president, the speaker of the House or Angelina Jolie’s fiance.
Only 34 percent of the people who spoke with Crowder knew the name of the vice president, despite the fact nearly everyone interviewed knew Brad Pitt was engaged to Angelina Jolie.
When provided the names of “Nancy Pelosi” or “Joe Biden,” several others simply admitted they had no idea who those people were.
It is important to be aware of how the government operates and who is elected to represent the people if we ever expect to be satisfied with the state of this nation.
The fact Americans do very little to stay informed about their own country, much less global politics, might be part of the reason legislation like the Patriot Act is not debated.
For those who are unaware, the Patriot Act is a set of laws that, according to fincen.gov, “deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world.” While this sounds nice, the laws also allow indefinite detention of any undocumented immigrants the U.S. Attorney General believes might act as a terrorist.
Many could argue this set of laws does not actually endanger any innocent individuals, which might be true – at this point in time.
If more legislation like this is allowed to pass, it can create a slippery slope with stricter laws that completely infringe upon the rights of U.S. citizens.
It seems strange the government and average Americans seem so concerned with allowing immigrants to become naturalized, when the average citizen does not know much more than the name of the president, if that.
Instead of assuming anyone born outside of the country needs to be deterred from entering the U.S. by asking difficult and even obscure questions before granting citizenship, why aren’t we focusing on educating the people who are already here?
The only way we can be represented fairly is if we know the policies and laws that are currently in place.
If we are unhappy with them, we must speak up – not assume everyone in the government is honest and has our best interests at heart.