Newly sworn-in Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed a bill that requires the state's high school students to pass the U.S. naturalization test in order to graduate. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the bipartisan effort makes Arizona the first state to enact such a policy.
Those applying for citizenship get asked up to 10 questions from a list of 100, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Six questions must be answered correctly in an oral exam. But Arizona's bill takes patriotism to a new level, presumably making it a requirement for all students, whether they were born on American soil or not. And it could be coming to a high school near you.
State officials claim this is a way to get students more interested in their civics lesson.
"Every new citizen has to demonstrate this knowledge, so this is creating a community standard of what we want everyone to know," Sam Stone, a spokesman for the Civics Education Initiative, the nonprofit pushing the test nationwide, told the Christian Science Monitor. "This is a basic test."
But the law takes on an interesting tinge in the context of Arizona's immigration policy. In 2010, the state enacted another first-of-its-kind bill. Controversial SB 1070 gave police officers authority to ask about immigration status during stops, if they have reasonable suspicion that a person is undocumented. Unfortunately, that means law enforcement officials can racially profile or judge language abilities in questioning whether or not someone is a citizen.
Attaining American citizenship is not an easy achievement for those born outside the U.S. In addition to having to deal with laws that enable potential civil rights violations, immigrants must demonstrate a robust knowledge of U.S. history and civics. Yet many natural-born Americans emerge from the education system remembering little about how their government works — or worse, ignoring key political developments.
To offer just a little taste of what many immigrants — and, now, Arizona students — must go through in order to get Uncle Sam's stamp of approval, here's a small self-test based on the actual exam questions.
It's time to find out who really deserves to stay in this country: Try to answer at least six of the following questions correctly. Are you up to the challenge?
1. Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
2. What are the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution collectively called?
3. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
4. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
5. What was the main concern of the U.S. during the Cold War?
6. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?
7. A U.S. senator serves for how many years?
8. When is the last day you can submit income tax forms?
9. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?
10. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?
1) John Roberts; 2) Bill of Rights; 3) Thomas Jefferson; 4) Checks and balances; 5) Communism; 6) July 4, 1776; 7) Six years; 8) April 15; 9) The Louisiana territory; 10) We the People.