Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Jaywalking Citizenship Test

Okay, now this is just sad.  I saw the whole routine which is longer than that clip. Jay Leno interviewed people on the street with actual questions from the citizenship test given to immigrants applying for naturalization to the U.S.  He didn’t even use the hard questions, but the softballs. And the answers were disturbing. One woman taught high school English and couldn’t answer simple questions taught in grade school civics.

I don’t think people born here should have to pass citizenship tests (try getting THAT Amendment to the Constitution passed!), but maybe we should make passing the INS test a part of what it takes to graduate high school.  Could you do it?  To find out, go here.  The INS requires 80% to pass–and that’s more than most than most people born in the U. S. know about this country.  You get multiple choice on that sample, but in real life, immigrants get no such help and the test is delivered orally!

Oh, and just so you know: I scored 100%–although it was a guess about which INS form is used for naturalization.

Here’s another such quiz.

October 19, 2007 - Posted by | citizenship


  1. I just squeaked by with 85%. I didn’t know the INS one and guessed poorly and I didn’t know the one about which amendment DIDN’T deal with voting rights. The other one I missed out of sloppiness…

    Comment by Dan Trabue | October 19, 2007

  2. I wouldn’t put too much stock in how well people do when Jay asks them a question. The point of this segment is to catch people saying funny answers, not correct ones. If you want to make it onto the Tonight Show, then you have to make yourself look incredibly dumb. Heck, I’m sure I could answer 90% of all questions Jay could come up with to ask except for those that have to do with classic cars, but I’d be tempted to say something dumb just to get on tv. It may well be true that the average citizen wouldn’t do well on the test, but this is certainly not evidence.

    Comment by Kyle | October 19, 2007

  3. 95% I had no idea what form was used to apply for citizenship. However, an oral test without multiple choice might have sent kmoo back to the old country.

    Comment by eyemkmoo | October 20, 2007

  4. I got 95%. Missed the amendment not dealing with voting rights. On the INS question, I just used logic by guessing they would have to fill out an application first. Got it right!

    Comment by Marty | October 22, 2007

  5. Not bad, Marty. I used process of elimination on the voting rights Q: I knew the 15th Amendment eliminated race as a barrier to voting (although Jim Crow laws would later find ways around it) and the 19th Amendment extended the franchise to women. I benefitted from the 24th Amendment which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. So, that left the 7th. I really should have remembered what the 7th Amendment was, but I didn’t. 🙂

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 22, 2007

  6. Hate to comment again, but the 24th actually got rid of poll taxes (which should have already been covered by the 15th; sigh…); the 26th let 18 year olds vote (not that they do at any significant rate yet). (I missed this question b/c I knew the 26th let 18 year olds vote, but I couldn’t remember what the 7th and 24th were, and I guessed wrong.)

    Comment by Kyle | October 22, 2007

  7. Oops! Looks like I guessed twice for that 100%!

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 23, 2007

  8. Having shepherded several people through the immigration and naturalization process – who didn’t speak English – I can assure you that it is quite easy to “pass”.

    Comment by Looney | October 24, 2007

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