Monday, December 28, 2020

THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED: Citizenship Test Cuts Questions on Freedom Of Press, Religion

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
The new citizenship test, which immigrants began to use this month, no longer includes a question dealing specifically with the right to religious freedom, one of the Constitution’s defining liberties.
It’s a startling move for the Trump administration, which has overall been a vigorous advocate of religious freedom across the government, said Alfonso Aguilar, who ran the Office of Citizenship in the Bush administration and oversaw the last rewrite of the test in 2008.
He made sure the religious freedom question was added to the test at that point because he thought would-be citizens should know about something so central to the American experiment.
“I’m surprised this is happening under this administration. I’m sure the president is not aware,” Mr. Aguilar said.
The citizenship test works under what Mr. Aguilar called the “catechism” approach: Those seeking citizenship are told to study a set of questions. When it’s time for the test, they are asked a small subset of those questions and must get 60% correct.
The previous version had 100 possible questions, and test-takers were asked 10. The new version has 128 questions. Test-takers are asked 20 and must get 12 correct to pass.
Even with the expanded test materials, religion has been cut. It appeared seven times in the questions and answers of the old test but just three times in the new version. Gone entirely is the stand-alone question: “What is freedom of religion?” The correct answer: “You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security Department agency that oversees legal immigration, said religious freedom is still “well represented” on the test and appears as an answer in three questions.
“The test continues to emphasize the fundamental concepts of U.S. government and American history that is found on the current naturalization civics test that has been administered in USCIS field offices since 2009,” said Dan Hetlage, a spokesman for the agency.
It’s not just religion that has been axed.
Read the rest of the story HERE

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