Elizabeth R. Sawicki and Daniella E. Sherman: Make citizenship test more fair, relevant

  • George Washington’s signature is seen as Chris Coover, senior specialist for Rare books & manuscripts at Christie’s, shows President George Washington’s personal copy of the Acts of the first Congress (1789) in June 2012. Immigrants who want to become United States citizens must go through a long list of requirements, including passing a civics test. AP

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Our names are Daniella Sherman and Elizabeth Sawicki. We are eighth graders at the Amherst Middle School.

In civics class our unit is on immigration. Immigration laws in the U.S. make it too hard to become a citizen. Below is our proposal to improve the steps to becoming a citizen. In class we were given a shortened U.S. citizenship test that had questions like “What is one of the largest rivers in the U.S.?” and current event questions like “Which rapper had a diamond implanted in his head?”

Most of us would have failed, meaning a score below 60%! We were also shown some results of current citizens who took the U.S. citizenship test and many did not pass. If United States citizens are failing their own test, why should people who haven’t lived in America have to pass this test?

Not only is the test unfair because of irrelevant questions like the one about rappers, but it’s also unfair because of the cost. It costs $500-$700 to go through the process to become a citizen! We propose that the U.S. changes the citizenship test and makes it more fair. We think that the test should be made more affordable and more relevant to what it means to be a U.S. citizen.

Many people who come to America are looking for a safer and/or better place for their family. They believe that America will give them safety and opportunities. People should not have safety taken from them because they don’t have the money or current event knowledge to pass the test.

If the test were more about history and laws like how to have health care and not to pollute and less about unnecessary knowledge, then many more people will be able to reach safety.

Think about it, what does it mean to be an American? Well, being an American is definitely not about being able to pass an unrelated knowledge test.

Thank you for reading our proposal and we hope you take it into consideration.

Elizabeth R. Sawicki Daniella E. Sherman

Amherst Middle School