Naturalization exam changes continue further hostility toward immigrants, experts say

Local News

MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — Immigrants who apply for citizenship after December 1 will have to pass a revised version of the naturalization civics test.  

UTRGV Political Science Professor Dr. Terrence Garrett says this newest change from USCIS is part of a pattern of the Trump administration making it more difficult for immigrants to stay in the country.  

“Changing sort of the rules and making it more expensive doesn’t seem to be very helpful in terms of trying to accommodate new citizens coming into this country,” he said.  

Other changes include Migrant Protection Protocols, implemented in 2019, and a recent attempt to from USCIS to increase the application fee by over $400.  

For the updated test, applicants will have to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly, versus the current 6 out of 10.  

“In the grand scheme of things it isn’t a major thing, but it can be intimidating,” Dr. Garrett said.  

McAllen Immigration Attorney Hugo Piña echoes that sentiment, and believes the changes will discourage people from applying for their citizenship.  

“I’m encouraging everyone to try to file before dec. 1, so u don’t even have to worry about it,” Piña said.  

Piña says it’s not just the number of new questions that’s difficult, but answering them with the desired terminology.  

“That’s where I think it’s going to become even harder, the fact — obviously it’s going to be more questions — but they also kind of change the way they’re answered and in my opinion its very deliberate to make sure some people are going to fail because of it,” he said.  

Applicants do receive another opportunity to retake the test if failed the first time, and Piña says it is rare to fail on the second attempt.  

While he is encouraging those eligible to apply for citizenship do so now, he says he’s hopeful federal courts will step in to block the change. 

As it stands, there will be an exception for applicants 65 years and older with a minimum of 20 years of lawful permanent residency allowing them to take the current test. 

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