Sunday, April 02, 2006


All the hullabaloo going on here in the US about immigration, legal and otherwise amazes me. On talk radio this week I've heard both Arizona senators display something which is either incredible cynicism or ignorance of the law.

The misconception is that it's possible to 'just' aquire US citizenship. Talk radio in Phoenix has been full of the suggestion that the law be changed to require a test in US history and form of government, in English, be administered and passed before the candidate can aquire citizenship. It may have been possible to become a US citizen without this a century and a half ago but things have changed since the 1850's.

Both Arizona senators, on talk radio, have agreed that the law ought to be changed to require this.

You know what? The law already requires this. There are some limited provisions to bypass the English language requirement, if the candidate is over 50 and has been legally in the US for more than 20 years, or similar variations on that theme but, for the most part, not being able to read and write English and communicate in the same language is going to pretty much bar anyone from aquiring citizenship. Don't take my word for it though, here's[^] the relevant page on the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) website.

For a senator to agree that the law needs to be changed to require something already required by law tells me that either the senator is ignorant of the law or they're playing to the audience. Does either condition foster confidence in the senator?

Congress is getting into the act with various proposals ranging from an amnestyguest worker program to proposals to build walls along the US Mexican border. Interesting idea, Bush's America rebuilding the Berlin wall!

I have to resist the temptation to call in whenever some talk radio host spouts off about the need for the test aforementioned. I know it'll just raise my blood pressure to no good end for either myself, the radio host or the audience.

I filled out my N400 form today, my application for Naturalisation as a US Citizen. Quite a form to fill out. They provide space enough for 10 trips outside the US in the qualifying time period (3 years in my case as my wife is a US Citizen). Not nearly enough space given my job. I count 18 trips outside the US during the last 3 years. It adds up to 239 days.

Initially I misread the guidelines for time spent outside the US and thought that it was a limit of 180 days. Bugger thought I, 239 days? We worked out that I'd have to wait until October 2 this year with NO trips outside the US before the 3 year total dropped below 180 days. Fortunately I'd misread the site; it's 18 months, with no single trip of more than 6 months, approximately 540 days, so I'm well within the guidelines.

They also provide space for two marriages for me, my current one and one previous marriage. I have two previous marriages. One space for my wifes previous marriages. She has 3.

Two excel spreadsheets later and a couple of hours spent poring over my passport matching up the entry and exit stamps to the Philippines, France and Australia I had it all in place.

Along the way I discovered the names of my wifes previous previous husbands. Not that I care all that much but it was interesting in a morbid kind of way :-) As evidence of how little difference it makes to me I've already forgotten the first two names; I'd have to look at the forms again to recall.

For the rest it's pretty straight forward. My alien number, various other questions such as my address, have I ever been a member of the communist party, you remember[^] the drill.

I need to send 2 passport style photos with the application so I went to the local Kinkos and stood in line. When I came to the head of the line the young guy asked if I was there to pick up a parcel. 'No mate, I want passport photos'. He didn't understand. So I repeated it, a little more slowly and loudly, dropping the 'mate' and enunciating more carefully. He still didn't get it. So then I pointed at the sign and he got it. Apologies; 'I'm a little hard of hearing.' he said. So I smiled and said 'well the accent wouldn't have helped would it?'. He agreed but, attempting to placate me, said, 'but I have an English Uncle'. Sigh. I corrected him about my current nationality and he said, doubtless thinking it was a good save, 'ah, a Kiwi!'. 'No mate', I said, 'that's another country!'. Well at least he placed me in the southern hemisphere!

We'll send the form in on Monday after the banks reopen. Never ever send a personal cheque to INS; only send bank cheques.

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