GUEST ESSAY: Intro to immigration

Penn Yan Action Coalition

Immigration and naturalization are topics that inspire passion and conflict in Americans across the political spectrum. To some, they represent the next frontier in civil rights, while others observe new arrivals to our nation with more reservation. The Penn Yan Action Coalition (PYAC) has worked hard in the past few years to offer information about the citizenship process, as well as details of the plight of those caught up in this often lengthy and intractable system.

Many know that prospective citizens must pass a test if they hope to make the American dream their own, though details about it may be murky to most of us. Indeed, the government recently updated it: proponents say that the new test will better screen for qualified citizens, while critics maintain that this represents yet another unfair barrier to people seeking better lives.

Regardless, PYAC believes that it would be beneficial for members of our community to become more familiar with this newest version of the citizenship test. We will be sharing six questions at a time over the course of several future columns, and we invite the public to use them to assess their own knowledge of American history, government and civics. Along the way, we will share additional details about our immigration system that may prove enlightening or surprising. We hope that readers will come away from this experience with a newfound understanding of this pivotal part of the immigrants' experience.

Here is the initial round of citizenship questions. (See answers below.)

Question 1: What is the form of government of the United States?

Question 2: What does the Bill of Rights protect? Question

3: Name one power of the U.S. Congress.

Question 4: Some states have more representatives than other states. Why?

Question 5: There are four amendments to the U.S. Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.

Question 6: What are two examples of civic participation in the United States?

Check future editions of the newspaper for more information about the immigration system and additional sets of citizenship test questions from PYAC. And if you'd like a chance to win two free copies of our next Community Read book (title to be announced), send an email to pyactioncoalition@gmail.com and you will be entered into a drawing for the books later in the spring. Please also send us your questions and comments about our work.

The Penn Yan Action Coalition's members are: Alexander Andrasi, Cindy Gorham-Crevelling, Scarlett Emerso, Claudia Guthrie, Debbie Koop, Anne Meyer-Wilber, Mickey and Ed Schultz, Nancy Richardson, Peggy Soule.

[answers on separate page]

Answers to citizenship questions from page A4

Answer 1: Republic; Constitution-based federal republic; representative democracy

Answer 2: (The basic) rights of Americans; (the basic) rights of people living in the United States

Answer 3: writes laws; declares war; makes the federal budget

Answer 4: (Because of) the state's population; (because) they have more people; (because) some states have more people

Answer 5: citizens 18 and older (can vote); you don't have to pay (a poll tax) to vote; any citizen can vote (women and men can vote); a male citizen of any race (can vote).

Answer 6: vote; run for office; join a political party; help with a campaign; join a civic group; join a community group; give an elected official your opinion (on an issue); contact elected officials; support or oppose an issue or policy; write to a newspaper.