Naturalization Ceremony

I’m going to be attending my first naturalization ceremony soon, and I was surprised to see some of the questions they ask on the form that is required of people who have passed the citizenship test and are going to take the oath. For example:

“Since your interview, have you joined any organization, including the Communist Party, or become associated or connected therewith in any way?”

Why are we still asking people if they are communists? Has nobody looked at this form since the 1950s? Here’s another odd one:

“Since your interview, have you knowingly committed any crime or offense, for which you have not been arrested?”

Does anyone actually say yes? Or how about:

“Since your interview, have you practiced polygamy, received income from illegal gambling, been a prostitute, procured anyone for prostitution or been involved in any other unlawful commercialized vice, encouraged or helped any alien to enter the United States illegally, illicitly trafficked in drugs or marijuana, given false testimony to obtain immigration benefits, or been a habitual drunkard?”

The last bit about drunkenness sounds like something out of colonial times. Someone in immigration services really should review these questions.

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5 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Of course people are not expected to say “yes” to these questions (my favorites these days are whether people were members of the Nazi party in Germany, asked to everyone, no matter how old, and whether they came to the US to engage in prostitution.) But, asking people these things, even if they all say “no”, allows a charge of providing false information or gaining immigration benefits via fraud later, if desired. That’s one of the very few ways to strip citizenship after it’s been given, so is seen by some as important. (The “habitual drunkard” bit is quite old, and related to worries about people being public charges. It was put in place in various bits of immigration law in the later 19th century.)

  2. Joe says:

    “any organization”?

    [insert joke here]

    There are actually people out there who take oaths seriously so this is not a trivial matter.

  3. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Oh, the first point is well taken, but it is still curious.

  4. PrometheeFeu says:

    Do we know what happens if you say “yes” to any of those? Many of the listed activities are not illegal and some are clearly protected speech. Joining the Communist party is obvious, but there is also “encouraged […] any alien to enter the United States illegally”.

    I’m assuming that polygamy here refers to illegally marrying more than one person. But 1) this is a state-law issue which means a state could conceivably legalize polygamy, 2) read more broadly, it could be interpreted as having multiple partners which one has married in religious-only ceremonies. (Something which the Religious Clause may protect and which a 4th Amendment Lawrence-type analysis might also deem protected)

    I’m actually concerned about the “joined any organization” part. I’m considering going through naturalization some time soon and would rather not have to choose between perjuring myself which would put my new citizenship in jeopardy on one hand and having to explain that I joined whatever random organization I may have joined on the other. (Changing employer for instance)

    More amusing is the second question. I suppose that if I commit a crime and make sure to get arrested for it, I don’t have to disclose that on the form.

    Could “any offense” be read to include traffic violations for instance?

  5. Jon Weinberg says:

    Gerard — the questions track the statute. For the ones you mention, see 8 USC secs. 1101(f)(1), (4) & (6) (incorporating by reference 8 USC sec. 1182(a)(2)(C), (a)(2)(D), (a)(6)(E) & (a)(10)(A)) and 1423. What you mean is that somebody in Congress should review the statute.