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Op-Ed: Can you pass the US Citizenship test without Google?

We all have watched the never dull discussions surrounding the Shadow Congress members from Puerto Rico. The posts of shadow US Congressmen or Shadow Senator have been held by elected or appointed government officials from territories of the United States that do not have a congressional vote. 

We have representation in Congress in the form of a Resident Commissioner that also lacks a vote. However, these shadow Congress members for Puerto Rico were elected to represent Puerto Rico following the plebiscite vote that chose to pursue statehood, winning by 52.52% of the total vote. As of 2021, there were two territories with Shadow delegations to Congress: Washington District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

The dialogues of how effective the delegates have been will be analyzed once they all submit their reports to the governor. We have been part of the United States of America for 123 years, and change takes time, so expecting these or any delegate to achieve a solution in three months is quite unrealistic.

As delegates submit their reports, the Puerto Rico House of Representatives controlled by the Popular Democratic Party approved an interpellation process to review the delegates’ progress. While the House has every right to conduct these proceedings, I wonder what other than theatrics are used for this purpose. 

To that end, we should remind ourselves that we have been proud US Citizens since 1917. The quality of life, access to education, healthcare, nutrition assistance programs, federal funds, FEMA, and many other benefits Puerto Rico enjoys has all to do with us being part of the United States of America. 

On the reverse side, we have all watched thousands of Haitians, Cubans, Middle Eastern immigrants, and others risk their lives to seek a better life in the US One of the most significant parts of the American Democratic experiment has been immigration. The US was built and populated almost entirely by immigrants and generations of their families. 

The United States 2020 population was 331,002,651, equivalent to 4.25% of the world’s population. Almost 50 million are immigrants or 15.10% of the total US population. 

In the early days of the US democracy, there was no specific process for immigration. That changed in 1790.

When the US government began to organize according to the Constitution, a law was passed to allow immigrants to petition the US Citizenship in federal court after being residents of the US for two years.

As the years went by, other requirements were added, including the following:

  1. A US citizen witness stating that the applicant “possessed a good moral character”” 
  2. An oath to support the Constitution
  3. The Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 granted African Americans the right to become citizens. 
  4. The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was created in 1906.
  5. An English literacy test has also been part of becoming a citizen since 1917; by coincidence, Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship that same year.
  6. In 1952 the citizenship process established a testing process to ensure that the prospective citizen had a “knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and the principles and form of government, of the United States.”

From that point on, a US Citizenship and Immigration Services officer orally asks the applicant 10 from a pool of 100 questions; all applicants are required to achieve a minimum of six correct answers out of 10 to pass the test.

According to the latest numbers published, close to 91% of prospective citizens pass both the test and the English proficiency test, which is the second component of the citizenship test.

Sounds simple enough, but you would be shocked to know that during 2018, The Institute for Citizens and Scholars wanted to determine how well natural-born US Citizens would perform in a 20-question multiple-choice survey from the standard citizenship 100–question list. A total of 41,000 adults from all states participated.

The results were essentially shocking. All states and territories failed the test, and the highest score was Vermont, with 53%. 

So, before Puerto Rico witnesses the most recent interpellation process from the House, I want to ask you: How they would do if they took the US citizenship test?

Below there are two versions of the actual US Citizenship test to see how people would perform.

Sample US Citizenship Test #1

  1. What is an amendment?
  2. What are the two parts of the US Congress?
  3. Name one right only for United States citizens.
  4. What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?
  5. Name the US war between the North and the South.
  6. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
  7. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States?
  8. What is the name of the national anthem?
  9. How many US Senators are there?
  10. We elect a US Senator for how many years.

Author Francisco Rodríguez-Castro is president of Birling Capital.

Sample US Citizenship Test #2

  1. What did the Declaration of Independence do?
  2. Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?
  3. How old do citizens have to be to vote for President?
  4. There were 13 original states. Name three.
  5. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
  6. What movement tried to end racial discrimination?
  7. What is the capital of the United States?
  8. Who signs bills to become laws?
  9. Who vetoes bills?
  10. What does the President’s Cabinet do?

US citizenship provides each of us with great benefits and greater responsibilities; that is why we have the greatest democracy in the world.

Before we continue to debate whether the Puerto Rico Congressional delegates are good or bad, let’s all make sure we have the standing to pass the US citizenship test, even if it is not a requirement to any Puerto Rican.  

In conclusion, Where Ignorance with arrogance shouts, Silence with elegance teaches.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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