I hate to sound too much like Yogi Berra, but when it comes to immigration in this country, I hear people’s conflicting opinions and I usually agree with them. Conservatives say something and it sort of seems right to me. Liberals say something else and I can understand that too. It seems like we’re getting quite a few illegal people coming to our country and it also seems like we may be getting close to the saturation point. Still, as an American, it’s hard for me to deny people who are simply trying to make a better life for themselves and their family. Just the same, it strikes me as better to have too many opinions about immigration than just the one.
The one thing that always sort of pisses me off is when someone points out that most of the illegal immigrants are taking the jobs us regular Americans don’t want to do in the first place. “Give us your tired and poor … because we have a whole lot of shit jobs over here we’d really rather not do” doesn’t make us look like a particularly gracious host. I know that’s the way it’s pretty much been since our country began but there has to be a better way to judge someone’s desire for citizenship besides their willingness to clean a fucking bathroom or wash some dishes. That being said, they should also offer more to our country than an ability to climb over a fence and run really fast. I suppose we’ve found the best way for them to stay here and help out is to take a test and become citizens. I remember doing this sometime in grade school or high school. We studied real hard for a couple of weeks, took the test and then forgot virtually everything we had “learned.” There was some pressure. If I remember right, you had to pass the test to graduate. It’s not as much pressure as passing it to avoid deportation maybe, but it was enough to get kids to try just hard enough. Looking back, none of it really made me a better citizen. Recently, federal immigration authorities came up with 100 new questions that immigrants will have to know to become citizens. The idea was to make them a little more about the way democracy works and a little less about memorization of somewhat trivial facts. It’s fine to know that Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem, but in the long run, it’s probably better to know who the House speaker is. I looked through some of the questions and they seem to make a little more sense than the one I answered many years ago, but they’re still pretty asinine. In fact, I’m proud to say I took a random test of 10 questions and got all 10 correct.
This is not because I’m smart, only because they are ridiculously freaking easy. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence, what did Susan B. Anthony do, who was president during WWI, how many justices are on the Supreme Court, things like that. For crapsake, I would imagine that most of it would seep in accidentally whether you studied it or not. I’ll admit I was a little shaky on naming the two longest rivers in the United States but after I thought about it for seven seconds, I got them both (Note: In case you’re an idiot and also very curious, it’s the Mississippi and the Missouri). Regardless, after I took my little test, it didn’t make me proud about my cursory knowledge of our country. It only made me realize how many people are just sliding by. I began to wonder how many people in our country, legal or otherwise, could get through the test with a passing grade, which is 60 percent. I bet it’s a smaller number than I would really hope. I would imagine that many of the folks trying to make the U.S. their permanent home know more about our country than some of the ones who were born here. It doesn’t mean the immigrants are smarter, it just means they have a reason to care a little more.
Some of us who were grandfathered into this citizenship thing probably aren’t holding up our end of the bargain any better than the ones trying to sneak into this country. We see it as a right more than a privilege. What’s wrong with it being a little bit of both?
I suppose if we wanted to get rid of any sort of favoritism, we should make everyone in our country take the new test. If you pass it, you get to stay, if you don’t, it’s sayonara or bon soir or whatever language they speak where we happen to extradite the failing ones. It sort of makes sense. If you want to be a citizen, then you have an obligation to know at least a little bit about the country you’re residing in, whether you were born here or not. Hell, maybe everyone should have to take it every year. It would be a nice way to keep everyone involved in the process. Something like that would never fly though because there are far too many dim bulbs already inside our borders. Sometimes the herd probably doesn’t want to be thinned as badly as it thinks it does.

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