Andy Rooney: How To Become A Citizen

Andy Rooney Puts The American Citizenship Exam To The Test

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access
This segment was originally broadcast on Nov. 15, 2009.

The United States takes in more people than any other place in the world. Everybody still wants to come to America.

Those of us who were born Americans know how lucky we are, I think. I'd hate to be on the outside now trying to get in. In 2008 a little over a million people became U.S. citizens. That's a lot, but a lot more wanted to get in and didn't make it. It isn't easy, now.

To begin with you have to fill out a 10-page application and pay $675 to the Department of Homeland Security. They take your picture, fingerprint you and interview you. They give you a reading and writing exam and a test on American history.

In 1996 I did a piece about immigration and I wanted to compare the exam they gave then to the new one they're giving to anyone who applies for now. You only have to answer six out of 10 questions.

Here are some examples from the old test:

What are the colors of the American flag? Hmmm. I don't think there's any green in it.

Where is the White House? Well, I know there are several white ones in the town I live in.

What are the two major political parties in The United States? Let me see. I don't think the answer is the Communist or Fascist Party.

Here are some of the new test questions though, which seem harder to me:

The Federalist papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers? I'm not sure. Was Ernest Hemingway alive then?

The House of Representatives has how many voting members? I don't know!

What territory did The United States buy from France in 1803? Gee, I don't know that either, New Jersey? Actually of course it was Louisiana.

You can only take the oath after you've passed this test, but my requirements for becoming a citizen would be easier.

First, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, second, promise to pay your taxes, third, sing The Star-Spangled Banner and fourth, name the winner of the last Super Bowl.

If you can't do all four, pack your bags and get out.

Written by Andy Rooney