Made in America

Prospective Americans have to pass a citizenship test that might befuddle many people born in this country.

For that reason, students in the citizenship class at the Minot Adult Learning Center were glad for the classes that helped them brush up on their English and knowledge of American history. Teachers Sarah Johnson and Janae Ronning also helped their students decipher the sometimes-difficult language on the U.S. Immigration website. Ronning and Johnson said sometimes the many rules and regulations confuse them – and they are native English speakers.

The citizenship class met once a week this spring for about six weeks. Students sometimes drove from as far away as Mohall or Kenmare and are originally from several different countries.

Nataliya Benshoof and Iryna Stenersen are both from Ukraine. Manuel Delgado is from Mexico. Yayoi Pay is from Japan.

Wilfredo Ramirez, from Puerto Rico, is a U.S. citizen already but wanted to brush up on his English because he will have to pass an English-language test to join the U.S. military.

Students studied from 100 questions about presidents and the Constitution and past U.S. history. From those questions, 10 will be drawn. The process of becoming a citizen can be both long and expensive, they said, involving fees, travel expenses, background checks and interviews with immigration officials that can add up to thousands of dollars. In most cases, people have to hold a green card for five years before they can apply to take the U.S. citizenship exam.

Along with the test itself, they have to demonstrate English-language ability.

Because the process they have gone through is so involved, several of the students in the class said they aren’t necessarily in favor of an automatic path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have not gone through that process.

At the same time, they said the immigration process could be simplified for new immigrants, they said.

They said they are grateful that the citizenship class is available for free.

Most will take their citizenship test soon in Fargo.