Friday morning my phone rang at 8:20. Rosa, the immigrant whom I’ve been tutoring, called to tell me she had just passed her naturalization test with 100%. I was so pleased. The application fee for citizenship is nearly $700. Applicants get two attempts to pass within a three-month period, but do not receive a refund if they fail the second time.
I felt responsibility for Rosa’s success because I pushed her to apply. Although she’s been a legal resident for 26 years, she thought her English wasn’t good enough. I assured her that the rule for applicants is the ability to speak, read, and write some English. Total proficiency is not required. Heck, many native-born Americans—including some who run for office—never accomplish that.
The civics and history part of the naturalization test would stymie many native-born Americans, also. I mean, how many of us know the number of voting members in the House of Representatives? Or the date the Constitution was written—or who wrote the Federalist Papers?
Cheers to the English Skills Language Center and Catholic Charities who provide programs to help immigrants and refugees learn English and prepare for citizenship.