Want To Be A U.S. Citizen? Study Hard

US IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERVICE seal, 2-13-02 AP

This column was written by The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.



So you want to become a citizen of the United States? Well, you better study hard. The old test for immigrants who want to become naturalized citizens had questions like, "What color are the stars on the flag?" (white) and "How many stripes are there?" (13, for the original 13 colonies).

These questions have been replaced by new ones. For instance, "What is an inalienable right?" Well, unless you know much about English common law or the philosopher John Locke, you might have trouble with that one.

I spent part of Sunday afternoon asking an interesting cross section of American citizens those questions. And believe me, many struggled. Name one right or freedom of the First Amendment? Some got speech and the press, while others looked at me with that "I didn't know there was going to be a quiz" face that was once so common in high school.

Quite honestly, if all of us were required to successfully pass this test by midnight, I don't think most of us could.


Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
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