Did I Need to Learn English in Order to Become a U.S. Citizen?

In the process of becoming a U.S. Citizen, besides filling a lot of paperwork, I also had an interview at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office (USCIS). During the interview I was requested to demonstrate my ability to read, write, and speak English. According to USCIS, “You must read one sentence out of three sentences correctly in English, and you must write one sentence out of three sentences correctly in English.”

Although the purpose of my blog is not to criticize USCIS testing protocols, I believe a higher level of knowledge should be required. Taking the test made me feel like a moron because the questions asked were on the level of a second grader. I was asked to read a sentence similar to this “My house is blue” and I was also asked to write something along the same lines.

The interview itself helps the interviewer determine our ability to speak English. I think we should be required to have better reading and writing skills. The first step towards adapting to the US culture is learning the language. The US is a nation where we immigrants must be bi-lingual at a minimum; unless your first language is English.

USCIS should consider other alternatives such as:

  • Increasing the English knowledge level required
  • A college degree earned in the US in lieu of the test

The idea is to encourage us immigrants to get educated; after all, getting educated will be beneficial to us as well as our economy.

Do you think improving the system would be beneficial? What should be done to improve it?

Photo by Mujeyhoy.com

I Am Proud of my Flag, Are You?

Talking about patriotism is indeed a controversial topic especially when in a country composed of different cultures. Long gone are the days when conquerors set foot into new territories and claimed the new land while planting their flag.

Although the US is a multi-cultural country, before we display flags from our countries of origin, we need to follow certain rules and guidelines as a way of paying respect to our new nation. Every country has a set of flag codes and if we intend to live there we must follow these codes.

We are all proud of our own flags, but exhibiting it in the face of Americans is a sign of lack of respect.  We send the wrong message, we come to someone else’s land and we expect them to accept us with open arms under the conditions that they will also accept our customs. How can we be welcome when the message coming across is “I love my country and I can care less about yours?”

I must say that a lot of times we do not intend to offend anyone; we make mistakes because we follow our traditions or maybe out of pure ignorance. Take as an example a Mexican flag displayed above a US Flag at a restaurant in Reno, Nevada (Photo Source KRNV News 4) .  We should start by getting familiar with the US Flag Code.

Some of the items found in the Flag Code include:

  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
  • The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

The complete Flag code 4 USC CHAPTER 1 can be found at the US Code website.

Are we immigrants doing wrong by bringing our customs with us? Is America over reacting?

Immigrants Welcome to the Greatest Nation!

America was founded by immigrants who made this country the greatest nation on earth. As America continued to flourish, more and more immigrants were attracted to the new land. Although immigrants are an important part of the American economy, the more than 13 million illegal immigrants in the country have created turmoil and political unrest amongst different groups.

Let’s face it; one of our big problems is cheap labor competition. Countries such as China and India are stealing jobs from America. Those companies willing to stay in America are forced to search for cheap labor in order to stay competitive in the market. Immigrants are needed in order to fill the low paying jobs that many Americans are not willing to take– this does not give immigrants the right to come to this country illegally.

The list of immigration related questions we need to deal with include the following:

  • How are we going to fix our broken immigration system?
  • Who is to blame for the massive illegal immigration?
  • Are illegal immigrants as liable as American citizens?
  • Should illegal immigrants be kicked out of the country?
  • Should illegal immigrants be given citizenship?
  • Are we Americans encouraging or discouraging illegal immigration?
  • What is the signal we are giving to other nations?

Many questions including the above challenge our daily lives. The purpose of my blog is to bring to light the different issues from two different perspectives, from an immigrant point of view and from a US Citizen point of view.

Immigrants are needed, but only those that are willing to integrate to the US culture, by integrating I mean learning the language, paying taxes, getting educated and not living off the government. The settlers came to America to “create” a nation and not to “take” from this nation. If we immigrants integrate, will not only contribute to this nation but will also become successful.

What do you think the ideal solution to the immigration issue is?