New citizenship test focuses on understanding American concepts

December 1, 2006 at 8:56 am

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have come up with 144 new questions for immigrants applying to become AMerican citizens. The questions, which will be narrowed down to 100, are unlike questions on past tests. The New York Post reports:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Emilio Gonzalez said the purpose of the new test is to ensure that immigrants really understand “the very values that make this country what it is.”

“The goal is to get away from rote memorization of what could be construed as trivial questions to something more meaningful,” he said.

The current test is a multiple-choice exam that asks questions like “What are the colors of the U.S. flag?” “Where is the White House located?” and “How many branches are there in the U.S. government?”

The new exam asks questions that include:

* “What does ‘We the People’ mean in the Constitution?”

* “What major event happened on Sept. 11, 2001?”

Imagine that…actually requiring folks who want to be Americans to understand the big ideas behind our nation. The Post story goes on to quote Heritage’s Matt Spalding:

Matthew Spalding, director of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Center for American Studies, liked the new questions, saying they shifted away from mere facts to concepts.

“That’s the key to teaching the kinds of ideas that will help immigrants assimilate,” he said.

Wake up White House!

November 8, 2006 at 8:01 am

Fox News reported late last night that White House officials believe now is the time to move forward with “comprehensive” immigration reform.

One wonders if they were watching the same election I was last night.

GOP leadership praises Secure Fence Act signing

October 26, 2006 at 3:55 pm

House GOP leaders Dennis Hastert, John Boehner and Roy Blunt today held a conference call with conservative bloggers in which they praised the President’s signing of the Secure Fence Act. “This is a good day for us,” said Hastert.

The trio emphasized securing the borders as the first step towards legitimate national security.

Also of note, John Hawkins of Right Wing News asked if there had been any efforts to get secure members in the House to cough up some of their campaign funds to help not-so-safe members in tough races (Hawkins was referencing this story).

Hastert said that those members have been asked to give “more than 10 percent” of their funds and Boehner ensured listeners that many of those members would indeed be forking over the cash soon.

For more on the Secure Fence Act see Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s blog post here.

More on the Gang of 14

September 25, 2006 at 10:19 am

Lastango over at Daily Pundit takes issue with my most recent Townhall column in which I report on the Gang of 14’s latest activity in the Senate. The tone of my column was clearly negative in reference to the Gang’s grandstanding. Here is a sample:

Also at issue is the application of the Geneva Conventions. The President argues that American professionals tasked with interrogating terrorists need clarification about the overly broad Geneva Conventions in order to extract information that could help avert attacks on the homeland. The tactics used to extract this information, argues the president, must be validated by Congress or else interrogators will not be able to move forward with interrogations that, according to a new ABC news report, have already helped avert as many as 12 terrorist attacks against the United States.

The Gang plus three says no. McCain, in a statement on his Website, made clear that he thinks the president’s approach “weakens” the Geneva Conventions while setting “an example to other countries, with less respect for basic human rights, that they could issue their own legislative ‘reinterpretations.’”

But McCain’s approach assumes our enemy has even some remote standard of moral decency and respect for the Geneva Conventions. Surely an enemy that routinely kills innocents while beheading kidnapped victims on camera cares nothing for such notions. That does not mean that America should also disregard the Geneva Conventions; the administration is not arguing for that.

And here is another one in which I recall the media reaction to the Gang’s first big media breakthrough on judicial nominations:

However, the Gang became media darlings. Countless editorials praised their “moderation,” “sensibility” and “reverence for tradition.” Clearly the liberal media saw the Gang’s actions as a blow to conservatives who want to confirm judges dedicated to interpreting the constitution (in the mold of Scalia and Thomas).

Despite the clear thrust of my column being negative towards the Gang, Lastango takes issue with one graf out of twelve…this one:

To date, the Gang’s stand has turned out better than expected for those conservatives, though. The high court is now presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts and he has a new associate, Samuel Alito, while the Senate has been able to approve a raft of President Bush’s lower level nominees.

Writes Lastango of the above graf, which he “won’t let pass” despite recognizing that the graf is an aside and not the point of the column:

Even an incident like the Gang hijacking national security and foreign relations issues isn’t enough to get people like Chapman to recognize the Gang as an unmitigated leadership failure by the Republican Party. If he’ll believe the Gang gave us Roberts and Alito, he’ll believe anything.

Ummmmm…did you read my column?

Nowhere in the piece did I praise the Gang. And contrary to the above assertion, nowhere in the piece did I credit the Gang for “giving us Roberts and Alito.”  My observation about the Gang’s activity on the judicial front is merely an observation that is based in fact. I was as upset with the Gang at that time as the next guy, but the point is this: those of us who were upset and feared that the Gang’s activity would result in the inability of the Senate to confirm judges were largely wrong in what we feared. Since that uproar, the Senate has confirmed a raft of lower level nominees, two Rock Star conservatives on the Supreme Court and we defeated a would-be disaster for conservatives on the Court.

That does not mean that in the future the Gang will not have a detrimental effect on the confirmation of conservatives but to date that has not come to pass.

Finally, Lastango is not finished with my writing. He cites this graf from a column in which I decried the hardball tactics being employed by some Republicans against Mike Pence on the immigration issue:

The idea that some so-called conservatives would abandon an up-and-coming Reaganite because they disagree with his good-faith attempt to find a workable immigration solution is a measure of the temperature at which this debate is being conducted.

Concludes Lastango:

What’s a little nation-wrecking between us conservatives, eh?

Nation-wrecking? So now a disagreement on the best approach to immigration reform is tantamount to nation-wrecking? Please…I appreciate that Lastango is paying attention to my writing. That is flattering. I just wish he would read it for what it is and leave his agenda out of it.

House border security measures

September 21, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Majority Whip Roy Blunt was joined by Representatives Dan Lungren and Ed Royce in a blogger conference call this afternoon to talk about the House of Representatives’ efforts to secure the border. Below are my sketchy notes from the call:

According to Blunt, the summer House hearings convinced members that a border security first approach to immigration reform was the only way to go.

John Hawkins asked Blunt if he could get a commitment to a continued border security first approach after the fall elections:

“Yes you can, we started down that path last year,” said Blunt. “House members are more and more convinced about how this needs to be addressed.”

Tom Bevan asked about the news stories over the summer saying immigration reform was dead. How did the media get it so wrong?

“This was our plan all along,” said Blunt. “The MSM didn’t believe that we were taking this issue that seriously.”

Robert Bluey asked about Chairman Mike Pence’s compromise immgration reform plan:

Blunt said that Leadership has not taken a position on the plan. He thinks citizenship should not be an alternative for people who came here illegally and that they should have to go back home and start over again. To me, that sounded like a veiled repudiation of the Pence plan.

Lungren made the point that even if you want a plan with a temporary guest worker program you have to secure the border first. He also said the fact that people thought this issue was dead but it is now moving forward shows the power of this issue.

Royce’s best point in my opinion, “border security has become national security.”

Mary Katharine will have much more…

Senate readies border vote

September 20, 2006 at 10:14 am

The Senate this morning will vote to invoke cloture — or limit debate — on the Secure Fence Act providing 700 miles of fencing along the southern border. The cloture vote requires 60 supporters in order to move forward on the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is framing the vote as a national security issue in hopes of rallying support from his entire caucus, including the 23 Senate Republicans who support “comprehensive” immigration reform. Frist himself supports that approach and has insisted that passage of the Secure Fence Act is not the death of “comprehensive” reform. Rather, Frist calls it “an essential first step toward comprehensive reform.”

The vote is scheduled for just after 11:00 a.m.

UPDATE: Democrats rolled over on the vote, cloture was invoked 94-0. Now watch for Democrats to try to amend the border security bill with the already-passed Senate amnesty bill that enjoys the support of all Dems plus 23 Republicans. To defeat that amendment — which would spell doom for the underlying border security bill — Frist will need to convince his colleagues not to vote for a bill that they have already voted for.

Senate pivots to border fence measure

September 19, 2006 at 8:39 am

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will now schedule Senate debate on a border security bill:

The Senate, which has been the major obstacle to strict border-security legislation this year, will take up a bill this week that calls for constructing 700 more miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It’s time to secure the border with Mexico,” Majority Leader Bill Frist said last night before filing the parliamentary motions to force the House-passed bill onto the Senate floor in a final effort to get a major immigration bill on the president’s desk before the elections.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Minority Leader Harry Reid, said the move “smacks of desperation” and was a “clear repudiation of President Bush’s call for comprehensive legislation.”

The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was easily approved by the House last week, contains none of the “comprehensive” measures that President Bush, Democrats and some Senate Republicans have demanded. Those include provisions to grant citizenship rights to about 10 million illegal aliens living in the country and a guest-worker program that would usher hundreds of thousands more foreign laborers into the U.S.

The measure will have its chare of detractors on the Senate floor, even within the Repuublican Party:

Among the most adamant supporters of comprehensive reform have been Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped form a coalition earlier this year to derail any legislation that failed to grant broad citizenship rights to illegals and create a guest-worker program. The group of Republican defectors also included Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia.

Mr. McCain, Mr. Warner and Mr. Graham also have bolted party leadership by opposing Mr. Bush’s proposed legislation for handling the terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay. The specter of a showdown this week over both the Guantanamo detainees and immigration had some Republican staffers on Capitol Hill wondering whether the trio could wage a two-front battle against their own party during an election season in which control of both chambers is in question.

UPDATE: The Senate will vote on Wednesday on whether or not to invoke cloture and move forward with consideration of this bill. The outcome of the vote is up in the air.

In the extended section read a Frist press release from last night announcing the pivot to border security in the Senate: Read the rest of this entry »

House Republicans digging in heels on immigration

September 13, 2006 at 8:50 am

The Washington Times:

House Republicans, returning from a month of field hearings on illegal immigration, yesterday warned of a gaping disconnect between American voters and many “elite” lawmakers.

“I have never seen such a disconnect between the American people and the elite,” said Rep. Peter T. King, the New York Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee and held two hearings last month.

Mr. King said securing the border this year is a cornerstone to national security and the war on terrorism. He called for more Border Patrol agents, more detention facilities for captured illegals and more unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the border.

Testimony by Mr. King and others came during a “forum” yesterday before the Republican Policy Committee at which committee chairmen who held field hearings during the August recess could report their findings to Republican leadership.

In other immigration news, the Washington Times yesterday had an editorial calling for the House to reconsider Pence-Hutchison:

Since the spring, the danger for Republicans going into the November elections has always been the appearance of inaction. But we still feel that enforcement-first is a winning strategy with the American people. Polls prove this, even if they also show support for a guest-worker program. If the Republican leadership is indeed committed to getting a bill to the president before November, it should go back to basics and focus on enforcement. That would mean giving the Pence-Hutchison compromise bill (with tougher triggers and greater limits on guest-workers) a second look. We understand the inclusion of a guest-worker program is a major concession, but let’s remember that such a plan would implement a program only after the border is deemed secure.