Citizenship Test Demonstration Held at the Fresno County Library

September 16, 2009 12:47:52 AM PDT
With a celebration marking Mexican Independence Day going on just a few blocks away, a group of immigrants from Mexico were in the Fresno County Library learning what it takes to become citizens of the United States.Susan Curda of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was supervising the forum. "We want to make sure it's not a confusing process to people, that it's not a scary process to people." She said.

The session featured a simulated citizenship test, given in front of the audience of about 75 people. The questions included.

"What is freedom of religion?"

"Name one state that borders Canada ... "

"When was the constitution written?"

"What ocean is on the East coast of the United States?"

"How many US Senators are there?"

In addition, there is a very brief written portion, to see the applicant has some basic English skills.

The person administering the test gave the simulated test taker a sentence to write. "What I'd like for you to do is on line number one write the following sentence ... "We pay taxes."

Of course becoming a citizen requires more than just passing the test. There are residency requirements and background investigations. The big message here was to be honest.

"If you have been arrested, please mark yes and bring all of your documentation." Curda told the immigrants.

This program is an effort by the Citizenship and Immigration Services to show they are no longer the Immigration and Naturalization Service ... the feared INS, of old. Their goal is to help immigrants become citizens. Those attending seemed to like the new approach.

Juan Ascantar, an immigrant who lives in Fresno said, "It's very helpful because a lot of people have questions in their mind."

More sessions like this are expected as the government attempts to reach out to legal immigrants, encouraging them to become citizens.

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