US citizenship test

It seems like both the content and topic of citizenship tests fascinate lots of people. The YouTube video Lyn Allison did on the topic got a lot more views than usual, as well as generating some media coverage. Of course, it’s also given the Coalition party yet another reason to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars to run completely unnecessary advertisments to tell people there is now a citizenship test.

Now the USA is revamping its citizenship test.

Federal immigration authorities yesterday unveiled 100 new questions immigrants will have to study to pass a civics test to become naturalized American citizens. The redesign of the test, the first since it was created in 1986 as a standardized examination, follows years of criticism in which conservatives said the test was too easy and immigrant advocates said it was too hard.

Unlike Australia, the questions being asked on the citizenship test are not kept secret, and the questions were test-run first. According to the report in the New York Times, “the questions were submitted to four months of pilot testing this year with more than 6,000 immigrants who were applying for naturalization.” I imagine the Australian government were more interested in getting the test up and running so they could try to milk some votes out of it before the election, rather than put the time into getting the test and the questions properly sorted out.

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  1. Andrew, if the Government is able to “milk some votes” out of the new citizenship test, then obviously the new test enjoys some popular support. Now maybe I have a somewhat anachronistic view of politics, but isn’t this how a democracy is supposed to work?

    Or is it the role of the multi-culti chattering classes to keep the ignorant, bigoted, xenophobic masses under control by excluding them from issues regarding citizenship, multiculturalism and immigration?

    As for the United States, I think it would be fair to say that its in the midst of an immigration crisis at the moment. They really should be looking at enforcing their border with Mexico before worrying too much about tightening up citizenship tests. Seems like a case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  2. Ralph, if you think spending over $120 million of taxpayer funds (plus the advertising) on something of no value just so it can possibly get a few votes for the government is a good thing, good for you. The fact that it might get some votes doesn’t in itself make it a good policy.

    As for your nonsense about the “mutli-culti chattering classes” (sic), etc, you guys really should get some new insults – the old ones are boring as well as meaningless.

    As for your paragraph with substance, I agree the USA has very different issues with immigration, compared to Australia. As with here, I think the citizenship test is mostly for appearances sake and has minimal practical effect. Still, at least they aren’t trying to keep the questions in their’s secret.

  3. Ralph, I suspect you’re being disingenuous about the nature of democracy. Sure, the people get to vote, and the majority will rule.

    But just because an opinion poll between elections reveals that a majority of people support a particular policy doesn’t mean it should be enacted. I believe one such instance where the government disregarded a majority of the population was the Iraq war.

    Similarly, if I was in the Parliament, there would be no way I would ever support the death penalty (for example) because I believe it is wrong. If the voters disagree with my stand, they could then elect someone else in my place.

    In the case of a Citizenship Test, I don’t doubt some people support it. Whether that’s a majority or not, I haven’t seen. And even if it was, that doesn’t necessarily make it right – only popular.

  4. Hello Andrew.

    I am a Liberal and I believe the test is quite pointless; how does a test determine what value an individual will be to the Australian people? I would much rather just see an open immigration policy based on capital, qualifications, a clean criminal record and community involvement.

    I know you have probably posted before on such a thing, but on what basis do you believe immigrants should be allowed entry into Australia and to become Australians?


  5. Hi Michael

    I am aware you were asking Andrew the above question, but I hope you don’t mind if I respond to your question of ‘on what basis do you believe immigrants should be allowed entry into Australia and to become Australians?’

    I agree with your own comments. However, I am not so convinced that the business visa is fair to either the visa holder or beneficial to Australians.

    I think a lot of long-term visitors from that category come from third world economies, where there is a mass of cheap labor. This is how they’ve built their wealth in their country of origin. And it doesn’t really work in a country like Australia.

    I suspect these visa holders possibly have had an input on the forumulation of Workchoices. I might be wrong there. But if they have, I think this is where their arrival has impacted on Australians in a negative way.

  6. Not wanting to be picky, Michael, but just because someone has a criminal record doesn’t mean that they are not of value to society.

    Many people who have been convicted and spent time in prison have reformed. Also, should one condemn someone for something minor (but still a criminal offence) they committed many years ago?

  7. “clean criminal record” should not be seen as an absolute, and I was not using it in such a way. If someone was a petty thug, but had reformed, rehabilitated, etc, then they are “clean”.

  8. Ralph: The Liberals can enact their citizenship test law without much fear of losing voters – it is a minor issue for most of their supporter base. However, there is a minority of xenophobes who would give their vote to the party who in some way represents their extreme views. So, the Government can enact laws to “milk” votes from this minority without losing the votes of people who care about more pressing issues. Do you really believe that any policy that gains votes for the government is one representative of the people’s will? Or that their policy is based on doing what they believe is right?

    I wonder if you think it’s worth spending $120 million on.

  9. So what was the argument that your crazy leader made to explain that this was a pre-cursor to re-introducing conscription? Even for the democrats this made no sense. Why are you so actively targetting the insane demographic?

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