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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Exams (07/26/04)

TITLE: Becoming An American Citizen
By Linda Miller


One day as I was flipping through the channels on my television, I found a program that caught my attention. There was a roomful of people reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America” with their hands over their hearts. A big American flag was at the front of the room. The announcer told us we were watching the final act of immigrants becoming American citizens. After reciting the pledge, there was an outbreak of clapping, ear-to-ear grins, and tears of joy on some of the faces. I started thinking about the process immigrants had to go through to become citizens of the United States of America.

Every case is different depending on what their status is when they come into the United States. Some come married to American citizens, American parents adopt some, and some come on a Visa or Green Card. In most cases they must fill out an N-400 Form, have at least two photographs, be fingerprinted and interviewed and pass a civics exam as part of the process. There are one hundred questions on the exam regarding our history and government. When a person is interviewed, they randomly select ten questions to ask as well as questions about their application.

A young woman told me about her experience. On the day she was to be interviewed, she drove two hours from her home to Detroit. She then waited in a crowded room for her name to be called. Three hours later, she was ushered into a small cubicle and a man began questioning her. He was very serious about his job. He asked her ten questions from the civics exam as well as personal questions taken from her application. She was proud that she got all the answers to the exam right. The interview lasted only ten minutes.

The whole process to receive citizenship could take many years. One young Romanian woman explained to me how she is still in the process of getting her citizenship after three years of waiting. One of her friends was adopted into an American family in 1997. She just became a United States citizen in June 2004. It took seven years for the process to reach its’ culmination.

If you are a natural born citizen of the United States of America, please do not take it for granted. Both young women told me an important aspect of becoming American citizens was their passports. The young woman who became a citizen has a blue passport and the young woman who is awaiting her interview has a red passport. They both know exactly what that means. One has freedom to come and go as she pleases and one still has limitations on her travel.

Exams are given so we can gauge how much we know. I wonder how many of us would be able to pass the exam for citizenship. For instance, do you know who elects the President of the United States? Do you know who would become President of the United States if the President and Vice President were to die? Do you know who has the power to declare war? I urge you to take the civics exam they give the immigrants and see how well you do.

I asked the young woman if she was proud to be an American citizen. Her answer was a resounding yes. Along with that answer, she also admitted that it cost her, not only in monetary ways, but also in time and effort. For immigrants seeking the right to be called a citizen of the United States of America it is not an easy process.

I am proud of the aforementioned young women. One has become a citizen and one is willing to spend the money, go through the time and effort to become one.
To every immigrant who is about to embark on this journey; to every immigrant in the process of going through this journey; and for those who have already made it I encourage you to learn everything you can about our history and government. We are the only country on the face of God’s green earth that has the many freedoms the Bill of Rights and our Constitution affords us.

Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Lee Schab 08/02/04
Very interesting! I wasn't aware of the lengthy process involved to become an American citizen. Thanks for the lesson and the needed reminder NOT to take our American liberties for granted. Wonderful article - well done!
Blessings, Lynda Schab
Theresa Knight08/02/04
Like Lynda mentioned, this is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Theresa Knight
darlene hight08/02/04
Good slant on the theme and thanks for making people aware of the privlege that comes so easily to us.Other people pay a very high price for.
Corinne Smelker 08/03/04
Thanks Linda for this, I am a Brit/South African married to an American, and the process just to get my green card, let alone my citizenship, was long, tedious and costly. But well worth it!
Melanie Kerr 08/04/04
I suppose that you don't maind the diffiuclties you go through if you can see that the end product is worthwhile. I was reading today about the man finding treasure in a field and selling all he had to buy the field. He recognised the treasure as something worth having.