America the great, land of the free and fortunate a county whose citizens take pride in freedom, their accomplishments, and a nation that is so deeply rooted in immigration. Dating back generations upon generations, my ancestors along with yours have travelled from their native land to American in hope of a better life and a brighter future. America is viewed by many as a country of happiness the “melting pot” for families that seek liberty and life but that age of immigration has come and gone. America now 200 years past that period, still holds its core value of hard work. Our ancestors worked hard for their families themselves and their future. The method of becoming an American citizen has expanded into a process that takes time, hard work, and sacrifices all of which our ancestors that came to America encountered. Freedom is a right and a privilege that takes time and effort to obtain.
The history of the United States naturalization/ immigration process is the history of the United States itself. “Dating back 221 years to 1790 the first steps of the naturalization process came to be stating that free white persons could become citizens”(Bolger). Women of this time where allowed to become citizen but couldn’t do such things as own land or vote. This early in time a large margin of immigrants had no choice over whether they wanted to immigrate to the United States due to the high demand of slaves needed.
“Around the time of 1868 the 14th amendment stated that any persons native born are citizens. During the civil war in 1870 the 2nd naturalization law came to be granting citizen ship to emancipated slaves and their children”(Bolger). At this time most became citizens fairly quickly and others where prohibited from entering the United States or becoming citizens due to their race, gender, religious views, and country of origin. These where mostly Asians due to the 24th bill passed excluding Asians indefinitely. This would not become corrected until 1965 with the immigration act that did away with racial barriers. These laws where just a few of many major changes to get the naturalization process to its best potential.
In order to become a permanent resident you must complete the naturalization process to insure the right to remain in the United States indefinitely. You may obtain a green card that is a much simpler and less time consuming process but with one minor criminal charge you could be subjected to deportation. With that being said it is a much smarter choice to become a citizen of the United States due to the fact that you withhold permanent residency. “America welcomes qualified immigrants to become citizens. Immigrants deserve a naturalization process that is fair, efficient, and affordable, but also ensures criminals cannot slip through the system”(Kennedy Act).
Becoming an American citizen is a privilege that one must fight for and show loyalty and commitment to the Constitution. There are certain requirements one must abide by in order to start the naturalization process. First are the technical requirements which is age and marital status. “You are eligible if you are at least eight-teen years of age and have been a permanent resident for five years without leaving the United States for six months or longer. You may also apply if you are at least eight-teen years old and have been married to and living with U.S. citizen for at least three years”(USCIS).
An important part of becoming an American is of course the language requirement. The person looking to obtain citizenship must go through a written and oral evaluation. In order to become naturalized you need to be able to read, write, and speak basic English. This is an important aspect because English is currently the dominant language throughout this country, and in order to show aspiration to become a citizen English is needed. Along with the language requirement you must have good knowledge and understanding of the United States history and Government. USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) officers will test the person up to 10 civic questions in English and the recipient must answer at least six question correctly.
Understanding and demonstrating accurate civic skills is essential in knowing the history of America and to comprehend what our country accomplished in history. Not only must you be knowledgeable of the United States be a person of good moral character and a model citizen during and after the process of acceptance. Lying during interview will be perceived as lacking good moral character and unsupportive of the Constitution. All citizen applicants must present willingness to defend and support the Country and the Constitution. The person seeking naturalization must fully grasp these requirements and take the Oath of Allegiance.
Once you fulfill these requirements that are extremely relevant to the process of becoming a citizen the next step is to complete an application and collect necessary documentation. Although the application is tedious and you will get interviewed on some of the questions, it is crucial that the applicant answers truthfully. This step helps the officers get a good idea on who should remain eligible for citizenship. If your application is passed a few remaining steps include photographs of yourself, fingerprints, and the send of all applications and fees for review. Finally if the officers believe you are citizenship material you will receive a pass decision and take the Oath of Allegiance in a ceremony setting.
The process of naturalization is a timely and expensive procedure costing over $1,000 and taking approximately six months from the date the application is filed. However it will take any where between 16-18 months for the application to process. This lengthy and costly process insure that all passed applicants who receive citizenship are truly worthy of becoming an American. America is a nation of different cultures, backgrounds, and people. Our strength comes from every American citizen born or naturalized here in the United States. If our naturalization process is weak it will reflect upon our country as a whole. By becoming a citizen of the United States you gain numerous benefits and rights that make this whole process worthwhile. “The united states Constitution allows both citizens and non-citizens rights but only some rights can be fulfilled with citizenship”(USCIS).
For instance only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections, are eligible for a Federal job, and can become an elected official. You now have access to a U.S. passport and this allows any assistance from the U.S. government should you need it. Among all these benefits none seem to make more sense than the rights you gain not only for you but also for your family. Simply put in A Guide to Naturalization, “In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen”(USCIS). Also in the act of bringing family members to the United States Citizens get priority when petitioning to bring family to the U.S. permanently. Many immigrants want better for their families so they will do what ever it takes to get them to America. Some of the more basic benefits of becoming a citizen are being able to demonstrate your patriotism and feel proud about what you have accomplished.
The united States in comparison to the rest of the world larks someplace in the middle as to how long and hard the process of becoming a citizen is. Each country holds it’s place in a very complex system of gaining citizenship. The United States I would say is about average when it comes to how many years of residency it takes to be eligible for an application. Our countries naturalization process stands at a suitable balance between time and difficulty. It shows that if you can finish the process you are worthy of citizenship.
The Naturalization process is a difficult process to complete regardless. As an American citizen I feel that because of our strenuous program of becoming a citizen of the United States we are sifting through all the immigrants that are potentially hazardous to American society. If you make the process of Naturalization any easier you will allow dangerous criminals to slip through the cracks and therefore gain American rights and we then have to treat these immigrant criminals under American law. I can confidently say that with having a strict Naturalization process it fully benefits U.S. citizens and if any crimes are committed as you are a illegal alien you are then deported from the U.S. The future of the United States is todays immigrants. They have hopes and dreams for their families just like those of families that migrated here generations ago.
“A Guide to Naturalization.” USCIS Home Page. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. .
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“Naturalization.” AbsoluteAstronomy.com. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. .
“New American Citizenship Act.” Index of /. 01 May 2007. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. .
“US Citizenship Apply Guide.” Pass US Citizenship Test – Proven Easy Practice Method to Pass US Citizenship Test, Most Complete and Most Up-To-Date. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. .
“U.S. Citizen Benefits.” INS | US Citizenship and Immigration Services Online. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. .