Ann Coulter has just insulted naturalized citizens with her absurd claim that President George H.W. Bush eliminated the naturalization test English requirement!
Naturalized citizens have every reason to feel proud to become naturalized citizens, after a lengthy process involving years of English, American history, and civics studies to prepare them for an interview and civics exam in English. Fully one third of native born adult citizens cannot pass the naturalization exam, but 97% of immigrants pass!
Naturalized citizens, especially those who arrived without much formal education, have every right to feel proud. I personally know a naturalized citizen of very humble origins who struggled with English and civic studies for many years. She felt such enormous pride when she became an American citizen that she had her naturalization certificate blown up and framed for display in a prominent place of honor in her living room!
Naturalization Test in English Has Been Law Since 1906
In 1906, Congress passed the Naturalization Act of 1906, stating:
That no alien shall hereafter be naturalized or admitted as a citizen of the United States who can not speak the English language: Provided, That this requirement shall not apply to aliens who are physically unable to comply therewith, if they are otherwise qualified to become citizens of the United States.
In 1950, the McCarran Internal Security Act strengthened the English requirement to require the ability to read, write, and speak English, and demonstrate a knowledge of history and form of government. The revised statute states:
Sec. 304. No person except as otherwise provided in this Act shall hereafter be naturalized as a citizen of the United States upon his own petition who cannot demonstrate -
- an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language: Provided, That this requirement shall not apply to any person physically unable to comply therewith, if otherwise qualified to be naturalized, or to any person who, on the date of approval of this amendment, is over fifty years of age and has been legally residing in the United States for twenty years: Provided further, That the requirements of this section relating to ability to read and write shall be met if the applicant can read or write simple words and phrases to the end that a reasonable test of his literacy shall be made and that no extraordinary or unreasonable conditions shall be imposed upon the applicant; and
- a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and the principles and form of government, of the United States.
Millions of immigrants have toiled through years of English studies, American history, and government to prepare them for an interview and civics test in English with an Immigration officer. During the administration of President George W. Bush, the naturalization test was made even more difficult, but 97% of immigrants still pass the exam. The same exam has been given to native born citizens, and fully 1/3 failed the same exam! Perhaps Ann Coulter would fail the naturalization test too!
Ann Coulter Insults Naturalized Citizens and Slams George H.W. Bush
Ann Coulter just diminished the accomplishments of naturalized citizens with another of her bald faced lies. In her most recent rant, Hispanicked GOP elite: They’ll respect us in the morning, Coulter showed contempt for President George H.W. Bush:
President George H.W. Bush created “diversity visas,” massively increased legal immigration and eliminated the English requirement on the naturalization test.
Ann Coulter lies! The Immigration Act of 1990, signed by President George H.W. Bush, did not eliminate the English requirement. The middle-aged and especially the elderly have a difficult time mastering English. The 1950 law made an exception for those aged 50+ with 20 years of residency. The 1990 law merely added an exception for those who are 55+ with 15 years of residency. They still have to take the civics exam, but can take the exam with an interpreter. There is no exception to the civics exam unless one is 65+ and a 15+ year resident.
The vast majority of immigrants are still interviewed and take the civics exam in English. Exempting the elderly is consistent with the spirit of the 1906 law, which states “requirement shall not apply to aliens who are physically unable to comply”, but doesn’t exempt the middle aged or elderly. The mentally impaired and physically disabled are exempted, consistent with the spirit of the 1906 law.
Do Today’s Immigrants Refuse to Learn English?
Not surprisingly, Nativists like Coulter often claim today’s Hispanic immigrants refuse to learn English, but credible statistics by Pew Research shows just the opposite! I blogged about this in Do Today’s Immigrants Refuse to Learn English. From Pew Research
As telling, perhaps, is a look at how many people said teaching English to immigrant children is not important. Among Latinos, only 2% held this view compared to 27% of non-Latinos.
The truth of the matter is that virtually all immigrants, both today’s and those of many decades ago, believe learning English is important, but also struggle with mastery of English, particularly if they are older when they arrive or have less formal education. The fact that a mere 2% of Latinos don’t think teaching English to immigrant children speaks volumes.
Ann Coulter Misrepresented Immigration Levels Too!
Ann Coulter also misrepresents immigration levels, and like many of her Nativist pals often claims the U.S. is being overrun by immigrants. The 1990 immigration law increased immigrant visas from 500,000 to 700,000, but Coulter fails to mention the quota had not been changed for decades and had not kept up with population growth.
In 2010, 1,042,625 immigrants obtained permanent resident status, compared with U.S. population of 310,383,948, 0.336% as a percentage of population. That numbers sounds large, until we realize the U.S. ranks #22 of 34 OECD nations in immigration as a percentage of population, near the bottom! A few nations that accept more immigrants than the U.S. as a percentage of population:
- Tiny Luxembourg: 3.116% of population, nearly ten times the U.S. immigration level
- Switzerland, 1.751% (Switzerland is one of the world’s most affluent nations)
- Canada, 0.825% of population, 2-1/2 times the immigration levels of the U.S.
- The U.S. – a mere 0.336%, or if Ann Coulter’s Nativist pals get their way and slash legal immigration to 1956 levels, 0.104%!
If the U.S. slashed its immigrant quota to 1956 levels to satisfy the Nativist lobby, we would then rank #31 of 34 OECD nations, near the very bottom!
Conclusion – Ann Coulter Will You Please Stop Insulting Naturalized Citizens!
Ann Coulter is right about many issues, but when it comes to immigration she is clueless. Since Ann Coulter is often held out as a spokesperson for the conservative movement, her rhetoric is very alienating to New Americans, such as Hispanics and Asians. She further insults these demographics with insinuations they are natural Democrat voters.
Canada’s Conservative Party was able to increase their immigrant vote support from a 3:1 loss (like Mitt Romney) to parity, 1:1. George W. Bush also won 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, as compared to 21% in the 1996 presidential race, reinforcing that conservatives can win votes from immigrant dominant demographics.
Ann Coulter is woefully ignorant about all things Hispanic, and would do well to find new sources of information, as clearly she has been drinking the Nativist Kool-Aid from the Nativist (and liberal) lobby comprised of FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA.
Reposted from Cafe Con Leche Republicans – original link
Bob Quasius is the founder and president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans