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Richard Piatt ReportingKnow the name of the President of the United States? What about the group of essays that supported passage of the Constitution? Those are two questions on a new exam for immigrants seeking citizenship in this country. Not every question is easy, even for those who've lived here their entire lives.
There are a lot of people who think every US citizen should know the answer to this question: "What is the surpreme law of the land?" But we found not everybody does.
Matt Lindahl: "What is the supreme law of the land? The supreme law of the land? I haven't got a clue."
Shelley Ramdeen: "Mmmm, I don't know."
The answer is 'The Constitution'. That is one of 144 questions in an immigrant naturalization exam being tested in 10 cities. None of those cities is in Utah, but interest in immigration issues here is high, and so a lot of people think we should expect people to know that the person in charge of the executive branch is the President. Or that we elect a United States Senator once every six years.
Vicki Waller, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services; "What the law calls for is a basic knowledge of government and history."
Even up to the time people are in the waiting room people can study, so preparation pays off. Still, there are a lot of people, myself included, who find some of the questions a little tricky. Like, that the Federalist papers supported passage of the Constitution. That one even stumped our Immigration official.
The oral test might replace the written test given now. Either way, most people agree that it's not too much to ask.
"If they're going to vote, and have a say about the government, they should know what the status is."
"I think they should learn it, and appreciate it is the main thing."
"I think who want to become citizens should know, I think."
Citizenship is something the government takes seriously. Proving that, out loud, may soon be part of a process being watched very closely these days.