Sunday, August 31, 2008

16: Countdown to the Constitution

Today's Topic: The Twelfth Amendment

The 12th amendment says that the President and Vice President are elected on a party ticket.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

17: Countdown to the Constitution

Today's Topics: the 9th, 10th, and 11th amendments

The 9th and 10th amendments limit the power of the federal govenment. On the other hand, the 11th amendment prohibits the citizens from suing another state in federal courts. (There are some exceptions).

The 9th amendment says that people have more rights not listed in the Constitution. The 9th amendment protects an individual's human rights (the right to food, housing, work, education, healthcare, a clean enviroment, etc).

The 10th amendment says that the States have more rights that are not already taken by the federal government. The 10th amendment gives states the power to organize state and local government.

The 11th amendment says that citizens cannot sue other states in federal courts because the citizen does not live in the other state and therefore is not subject to the other state's laws. (There are some exceptions).

For example:
  • Everyone in the US has the right to an education. People must know how to read and think so that they can make good decisions when they vote.
  • The state, county, and local goverments build and staff schools and libraries. People who study in the schools and libraries are able to particpate in the community to the the best of their ability.
  • Citizens who live outside the state of California cannot sue California about CA education laws.They cannot sue Califonia about the UC admissions policy, CAHSEE testing, bi-lingual education, or charter schools.

Friday, August 29, 2008

18: Countdown to the Constitution

Today's Topic: The Eighth Amendment

8th Amemdent: The government cannot demand excessive bail or fines, or any cruel and unusual punishment.

ESL Podcast 143 - Fighting a Parking Ticket
Eric: I'm going to traffic court. I got a parking ticket and I'm going to fight it. Mindy: How much was the fine?

ESL Podcast 172 - Legal Problems
When he was arraigned in court , the prosecutor said that the charges were very serious felonies and not simple misdemeanors.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

19: Countdown to Constitution Day

Today's Topic: The 6th & 7th Amendments

6th A person has the right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury.

7th A person has the right to a jury trial for civil cases.

Every person has the right to a fair and speedy jury trial for civil cases. In order to protect this civil right, US citizens are called for jury duty.

Sometimes jury duty is inconvient, but serving on a jury guarantees that everyone is treated fairly and equally under the law. Serving on a jury is an important responsibility for each US citizen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

21: Countdown to Constitution Day

Today's Topic: The Fourth Amendment

The 4th Amendment protects people from illegal search and seizure. The government cannot arrest a person or search their property unless there is "probable cause."

It important to know your rights if you are stopped by the police. Knowing your rights will help you protect yourself. Knowing your rights will also help the police enforce the correct laws to keep the community safe.

ACLU: Know Your Rights:
What to Do If You Are Stopped by the Police
Know Your Rights Pocket Card (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - English (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - Spanish (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - Farsi (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - Arabic (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - Hindi (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - Punjabi (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - Somali (PDF)
Know Your Rights Pamphlet - Urdu (PDF)

Comment added 08/28/08: Listen to ESLPod English Cafe 118 for a discussion about
  • The difference between seize, arrest, and detain
  • How to become the president of the United States.
N-400 Part 10 Section D 15-21 ask question about commiting a crime. Example:
  • Have you ever committed a crime?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever been stopped by the police?
  • Have you ever been in jail or prison?
N-400 Part 10 Section D 22 A-G ask questions about commiting specific crimes. Example:

  • Have you ever been a habitual drunkard?
  • Have you ever sold or smuggle illegal drugs?
  • Have you ever gambled illegally?

N-400 Part 10 Section E 25-28 A-G ask questions about commiting deportation. Example:

  • Have you ever been deported?
If a person answers YES to any of the questions, even if he or she is innocent or the problem happened many years ago, the person must bring the court papers to the USCIS interview.

Can a person become a US citizen if they have been deported or committed a serious crime? Yes, but it is strongly advised to work with a good immigration lawyer to prepare the N-400.

Monday, August 25, 2008

22: Countdown to Constitution Day

Folk Hero Davy Crockett

Today's Topic: The Second and Third Amendments

The Second Amendment says:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

People interpret the Second Amendment in many ways. For example:
  • People can keep guns for personal protection.
  • People can keep guns only to protect the community (ex: police, national guard, army).
  • People can keep as many guns as they want for any reason.

There are many state and local laws that control the use of guns. For example:

  • In some cities or states, people must register their gun.
  • In some cities or states, people must have a special license to carry a gun.
  • People cannot bring a gun to public places, such as school, work, or government offices.
  • If a person uses a gun during a crime, the courts will add more time to the jail sentence.

The Third Amendment says:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Before the American Revolutionary War, British soldiers took people's houses and lived in them. Because there has been no war since the Civil War in the United States, the government uses the Third Amendment as the constitutional basis for the right to privacy, or to own private property.

Some people think that the Third Amendment should be used as the constitutional basis of what a US soldier can and cannot do. The US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, have their own rules and procedures which follow the US Constitution.

Protecting the United States is the duty of all US citizens!

Some people become eligible for US Citizenship based on their military service. On the N-400, they would check YES on Part 2 C and Part 10 Section F 29.

If a legal permanent resident is a male between the ages of 18-26, he must register for the Selective Service ("the draft"). If there is a national or international emergence, the goverment can call people to join the Armed Services. For more information, see N-400 Part 10 Section G or go to Selective Service System. Women do not have to register for the Selective Service.

During the USCIS interview, the officer will asks Part 10 Section H 37:

If the law requires it, are you willing to bear arms on behalf of the United States?

Some people are willing to carry a weapon--and possibly kill another person--to protect their country. They can check YES on questions N-400 Part 10 Section H 36, 37, 38, 39.

Other people, non-combatants, do not want to carry a weapon, but will support combatants. They can check NO on question 36 & 37, and YES on 38 & 39. During the Oath Ceremony, they will not take the full Oath of Allegiance--they will remain silent during the promise to "bear arms." Non-combatants fulfill their obigation of citizenship by helping to keep the United states safe and secure.

Some people belong to religions that do not let their people carry guns, support the army, or take oaths. They check NO on 36, 37, 38. These people can become citizens because they promise to obey the Constitution. and support the US government.

US Department of Defense: The Constitution

US Citizenship Podcast: The Military

Sunday, August 24, 2008

23: Countdown to Constitution Day

Today's Topic: The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.

Freedom of speech
A person can say or think anything they want.

Freedom of religion
A person can practice any religion or no religion. The government cannot establish a national religion.

Freedom of assembly
People can come together to have peaceful meetings, rallies, marches, or demonstrations.

Freedom of the press
A person can read, write, publish, or broadcast anything they want.

Right to petition
People can ask the government to change the law.

ACLU American Civil Liberties Union: Free Speech
First Amendment Center

Saturday, August 23, 2008

24: Countdown to Constitution Day

Today's Topic: the Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.

The Bill of Rights guarantees personal rights to all people living in the United States.

During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, some people wanted a strong federal government and some people wanted a weak central government that gave more power to the states. James Madison tried to use the ideas from both "parties" and wrote the US Constitutuon.

Some states did not want to ratify the new US Constitution. They were afraid that a strong federal govenment would try to control people and take away their rights.

In 1789, James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights to "amend" (change) the US Constitution. The must guarantee the personal rights of all people living in the US. The states approved the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.

These amendments protect the basic rights of the people.

1st: Freedom of Speech, Press, Assembly, Religion, and the Right to Petition

2nd: Right to Bear Arms

3rd: Protection from Quartering Soldiers

4th: Protection from Search & Seizure

5th: Right to Fair Legal Treatment

6th: Right to a Lawyer

7th: Right to Trial by Jury

8th: Protection from Cruel Punishments

9th: People have more rights not listed in the Constitution

10th: State Rights

Originally, the Bill of Rights had 12 different amendments, but the first two were not passed by enough states.

The first "article" was about the number of a state's representatives in the House of Representatives. This "article" became a part of the US Constitution under Article I (Legislative Branch). In 1910, the number of representatives grew to 435 and in 1941, the Congress voted to limit the House to 435representatives.

The second "article" that was not approved was finally added to the Constitution in 1992. It is now the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, and deals with pay changes for the government.

Visit the Bill of Rights Institute: Constitution Dayfor further education and multimendia resources.

VOANEWS: American History Series: The Heart and Spirit of the Constitution On THE MAKING OF A NATION: When the Constitution was written, a majority of the states already had their own bills of rights. So some delegates questioned the need for a national one.

More interesting resources:

Friday, August 22, 2008

25: Countdown to Constitution Day

Today's Topic: A Quick List of the Twenty-seven Amendments to the US Constitution

  • 1st People have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of petition, and freedom of religion. 1791.

  • 2nd People have the right to have a weapon to protect themselves. 1791.

  • 3rd Soldiers cannot take or live in a person's house. 1791.

  • 4th The government cannot arrest a person or search their property unless there is "probable cause." 1791.

  • 5th The government must follow the law (due process) before punishing a person. 1791.

  • 6th A person has the right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury. 1791.

  • 7th A person has the right to a jury trial for civil cases. 1791.

  • 8th The government cannot demand excessive bail or fines, or any cruel and unusual punishment. 1791.

  • 9th The Constitution does not include all of the rights of the people and the states. 1791.

  • 10th Any powers that the Constitution does not give to the federal government belong to the states. 1791.

  • 11th Citizens cannot sue states in federal courts. (There are some exceptions). 1795.

  • 12th The President and Vice President are elected on a party ticket. 1804.

  • 13th Slavery is illegal in the United States. 1865.

  • 14th Every person born in the United States is a citizen. An immigrant can become a a naturalized citizen. 1868.

  • 15th All US male citizens have the right to vote. 1870.

  • 16th Congress can tax income. 1913.

  • 17th The people can elect US Senators. 1913.

  • 18th Alcohol is illegal. (Prohibition). 1919.

  • 19th All US female citizens have the right to vote. 1920.

  • 20th The President is inaugurated in January. Congress begins to meet in January. 1933.

  • 21st Alcohol is legal. Each state can make laws about making, selling, and drinking alcohol. 1933.

  • 22nd The President cannot serve for more than two terms. 1951.

  • 23rd The US Citizens in the District of Columbia have the right to vote for President. 1961.

  • 24th It is illegal to make a citizen pay a voting fee. It is illegal to make a citizen take a reading test to vote. 1964.

  • 25th If the president dies or cannot serve, the vice-president becomes president. If both die, the Speaker of the House becomes president. 1967.

  • 26th US citizens who are 18 years old or older have the right to vote. 1971.

  • 27th Congress must limit when and how much its members are paid. 1992.

See one of the coolest multmedia widgets on the web: the NCC Interactive Constitution.

VOANews: American History Series: How the Constitution Came to Life
One cannot truly understand the United States without understanding this document. In the coming weeks we will tell its story. Transcript of radio broadcast: 09 January 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

26: Countdown to Constitution Day

Today's Topic: the Seven Articles of the US Constitution

The Constitution is our plan for government. The Articles of the Constitution talk about the duties of the three main parts of govenment: the Executive Branch, the Legistlative Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The articles also talk about the separate powers of the Federal and State goverment, and how to change the Constitution.

Article 1: Legislative Branch: the U.S. Congress makes the laws for the United States. Congress has two parts, called "Houses," the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Article 2: Executive Branch: the President, Vice-President, Cabinet, and Departments under the Cabinet Secretaries carry out the laws made by Congress.

Article 3: Judicial Branch: the Supreme Court decide court cases according to US Constitution. The courts under the Supreme Court decide criminal and civil court cases according to the correct federal, state, and local laws.

Article 4: States' powers: States have the power to make and carry out their own laws. State laws that are related to the people and problems of their area. States respect other states laws and work together with other states to fix regional problems.

Article 5: Amendments: The Constitution can be changed. New amendments can be added to the US Constitution with the approval by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress (67, 281) and three-fourth vote by the states (38).

Article 6: Federal powers: The Constitution and federal laws are higher than state and local laws. All laws must agree with the US Constitution.

Article 7: Ratification: The Constitution was presented to George Washington and the men at the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, Representatives from twelve out of the thirteen original states signed the Constitution. From September 1787 to July 1788, the states meet, talked about, and finally voted to approve the Constitution.

EL Civics: The Constitution
Simple Wiki: The US Constitution
The Constitution of the United States in Basic English

NCC Constitution Day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

27: Countdown to Constitution Day

Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) is an American federal holiday that recognizes the ratification of the United States Constitution. Citizenship Day also recognizes all who have become citizens due to either coming of age or naturalization. It is celebrated on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.
Before Constution Day, students study the US Constitution, focusing on the rights and responsibilites of American Citizenship. On Constitution Day, students sign a large copy of the Constitution and are given pocket-sized copies of the Constitution. Many adult schools honor the students who were naturalized as American citizen during the previous school year. The school also encourages the students who are preparing for naturalization during the upcoming school year.

Today's Topic: The Preamble

The Premble lists the reasons that the 13 original colonies separated from their mother ountry, and became an independent nation.

We the People of the United States,
in Order to form a more perfect Union,
good government
establish Justice, good laws
insure domestic Tranquility, peace in our homes
provide for the common defence, national security
promote the general Welfare, healthy communities
and secure the Blessings of Liberty freedom
to ourselves and our Posterity, children
do ordain and establish give authority
this Constitution the supreme law of the land
for the United States of America.

For more information, see: Nation Constitution Center: We the People and EL Civics.
Added 08/28/08 Listen to ESLPOD English 92 for the Preamble to the US Constitution.
Check back every day for more info on the Constitution!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Oath Ceremony Part 5: I'm Proud to Be an American!

After the Oath of Allegiance, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who represents south San Jose and Santa Clara County, spoke to the the new cititzens about her grandfather. She said that she was very proud of her immigrant grandfather and one of her most important possession is her grandfather's citizenship papers.

Her grandfather's pride in his new country inspired Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren to work hard on behalf of immigrants' rights. She is very sympathetic to all immigrant communities, particularly the San Jose Vietnamese-American community and worked towards a just resolution of the Little Saigon controversy. Here she is at the SJ 2008 Tet Parade:

After Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren spoke, we watched a video-taped greeting from President George W. Bush on a stadium screen. (Unfortunately, my photo of the President speaking on the video screen turned out very poorly. Here is a video of a similar speech that President George w. Bush gave on July 4, 2008 at an Oath Ceremony.) People loved the video's song, "I'm Proud to be an American" and I heard several groups of children singing the refrain over and over as we left the building.

After a short wait, the new citizens came out. Presenting Mr & Mrs Champaklal and Savita Nakrani, Citizens of the United States of America!

After this photo, the Nakranis immediately turned in their voter registration cards. Outside of the fairgrounds, they bought display folders for the citizenship papers and immediately slipped them in.

After years living in the shadows, the new citizens walked out into the noonday sun as Americans.

The End, but the story continues!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Oath Ceremony Part 4: The Oath!

After the Roll Call of Nations, the citizens-to-be raised their right hand and said:

The Oath of Allegiance

I hereby declare, on oath,
that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure
all allegiance and fidelity
to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty
of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

that I will support and defend the Constitution
and laws of the United States of America
against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States
when required by the law;

that I will perform noncombatant service
in the Armed Forces of the United States
when required by the law;

that I will perform work of national importance

under civilian direction
when required by the law;

and that I take this obligation freely

without any mental reservation
or purpose of evasion;

so help me God.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Oath Ceremony Part 3: Voter Registration

In March 2008, the USCIS changed their policy about giving voter registration forms to citizens-to-be before the Oath Ceremony.

The USCIS said that the county voting officials must wait until the very end of the Oath Ceremony to give voter registration forms to new citizens.

Why? Before the Oath Ceremony, the citizens-to-be are not legally citizens yet and only US citizens can register to vote.

After the change in March 2008, voter registration dropped by about 80 percent. After the Oath Ceremony, many new citizens didn't take the time to register to vote because they were in a hurry to return to work or to celebrate with friends and families.

The San Jose Mercury News (07/19/08) reported the huge drop in voter registration. The USCIS decided to change its policy to allow county voting officials to give voter registration forms to citizens-to-be. They can now fill-out the voter registration cards while waiting for the Oath Ceremony to begin.

Why? Because voting is the most important right and responsibility of a US citizen. The USCIS wants to help new citizens to vote in the upcoming presidential election and all following elections.

So, at the Thursday August 14 Oath Ceremony, citizens-to-be found voter registration cards in their seats. Some citizen-to-be filled the cards out immediately.

Before the actual Oath Ceremony began, officials from the Santa Clara County of Voters spoke in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog--the official "ballot languages" of Santa Clara County. The speakers gave brief instructions about how to fill out the registration card.

Polling places in Santa Clara county are identified in five languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.
A voter can fill-out a Preferred Language Survey at the polling place to receive voting info in his or her chosen language.

After the ceremony, the new citizens mobbed the voting officials to hand in their voter registration forms--it was so inspiring!

Kudos to the SJ Mercury News for reporting this story and to the USCIS and Santa Clara County Registar of Voters for immediately addressing and fixing this problem.

To be continued!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Oath Ceremony Part 2: Countdown!

FINALLY, the doors opened and the citizens-to-be came in.

The first person that the citizens-to-be met was the SF Bay Area USCIS Community Relations Officer, Lucee Rosemarie Fan. She was happily directing people to their seats.

I would expect that such an important government official would assign such a humble task to someone else. I looked around and saw other USCIS officers, supervisors, and directors helping the citizens-to-be with the same pride, respect, and efficiency. The USCIS employees "walked" with the citizens-to-be to the very last "step" of the naturalization process.

When the citizens-to-be came to their seats, they found important US Citizenship "tools": an American flag, a booklet of the Declaration of Independence & the US Constitution, a Voter's Registration packet, and the Citizen's Almanac.

While they waited for the cermony to begin, the citizens-to-be chatted with their neighbors, listened to patriotic music, and read their Almanacs. I was happy to see another student from Milpitas, Shu-Wen Chang.

There were many small children in the visitor's gallery. Parents used the long wait to tell their children stories about the flag, George Washington, and coming to America.

More people came and the hall started to fill up. Finally the hall was filled--we were read to begin the Oath Ceremony!

To be continued!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Oath Ceremony Part 1: Today's the Day!

The USCIS San Jose office usually interviews one thousand people per month. The Novemeber 2008 Presidential election, combined with the July 2007 USCIS price rise, inspired thousand of permanent residents to apply for citizenship. During Spring and Summer 2008, the San Jose office was interviewing close to 3500 people per month!

By mid-August 2008, so many people have passed their Citizenship interviews, that the USCIS arranged to hold the Oath Ceremony at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds (a very large and convient location), instead of the smaller Campbell Heritage Theater.

Today's goal: US Citizenship for over 5000 people in morning and afternoon ceremony---WELCOME!

The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 10:30am. Because there was such a HUGE traffic jam before the previous ceremony, I decided to arrive at 8am. I easily found the "Citizen-to-be" line and followed to the beginning. who was in front of the line? Mr and Mrs Nakrani--they got there at 6:30am!

I followed the "Citizen-to-be" line to the end and found two more students, Xaiken and Thai, with their son.

As we waited, Hoanh and her husband came. She passed her interview over 30 months ago and FINALLY got her letter for the Oath Ceremony.

No sooner than saying "Hello!" a USCIS representative came by and checked the Citizens-to-be Oath Ceremony letter and paperwork.

The USCIS representative directed us "guests" to another line. Good-bye Citizens-to-be, Hello New Citizens!

To be continued...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Let's work together to keep America strong!

USCIS 96:92 91. Name one benefit of being a citizen of the United States.

To obtain Federal government jobs, to travel with a U.S. passport, or to petition for close relatives to come to the United States to live.

This week, we have reviewed some of the government departments that work together to protect Americans right to travel (DHS, USCIS, Border Patrol, Customs, ICE, TSA, and the State Dept Travel). These government agencies are constantly looking for qualified workers.

US citizenship is the first qualification for federal job. In order to obtain a federal job, a citizen must apply for a federal job.

The second step towards obtaining a federal job, is creating an account at USAJOBS: the official job site of the federal government. At USAJOBS, you can search for jobs , apply for jobs, and upload your resume for employers to review.

Because there is so much information of its website, USAJOBS has posted tutorial videos about how to use this site.

Many students apply to work at the Post Office. Here is more info about getting a job with the "travel" departments: DHS, USCIS, ICE, CBP, TSA, State Dept-Travel.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How We Prepared for the Citizenship Interview

New Citizens: Mr & Mrs Champaklal and Savita Nakrani
and their beloved grandson

Here is a detailed account how Mr and Mrs Nakrani (formerly of Gujarat, India) prepared for their Citizenship Interview.

As you can see, Mr. Nakrani, who wrote the account, can communicate in English quite well and he daily coached Mrs Nakrani in English and Civics. Their diligence and patience paid off and they both easily passed the test. More importantly, their intense preparation provided an excellent study model for their young grandson. Congratulations! Direct download: prep.pdf

Today the Nakranis will take the Oath of Citizenship at the Santa Clara County Fairgounds. Congratulations and thank you for helping others to realize their American Dream!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The New US Passport Card

On July 14, 2008, the US Department of State and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that a new US Passport Card is now being distributed.

The new US Passport Card is valid for travel to only between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
  • The new US Passport Card is not valid for travel to other countries (ex: China, India).
  • The new US Passport Card is valid for international travel for land and sea travel.

  • The new US Passport Card is not valid for international travel by air.

  • The new US Passport Card is valid "picture identification" (just like a US Passport).

  • The new US Passport Card makes crossing the borders faster because it has a special chip.

  • The new US Passport Card is cheaper than the US Passport.

Monday, August 11, 2008

TSA: Transportation Security Administration

Before getting on a plane, passengers must show their ID, ticket, & go through a security screening.

The TSA screens passengers, carry-on bags, and luggage to ensure safety for everyone.

The security screening is not done by officers from Customs, Border Patrol, ICE, nor the State Dept Travel.

TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security (like USCIS, ICE, & CBP).

TSA officers have found some some strange things during security screenings.

To make the security screening go quicker, TSA has a new project: 3-1-1--Three Ounces, One Quart, One Bag

  • 3 ounce bottle of liquide or less (by volume)
  • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag
  • 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin.

Here is more info on 3-1-1

No one likes to go through security screenings, so TSA is constantly trying to improve the security screenings.

One of the benefits of the US citizenship is getting a federal job such as working as a TSA officer. For more information, see TSA's posting at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Citizen and New Passport

Tammy Chen is a retired elementary school teacher from Taiwan. She immigrated with her husband, Charles, to the United States to live with their daughter and granddaughter.

After living in the United States for five years, Tammy applied for US Citizenship and passed the interview.

Tammy went to Taiwan for the summer to visit her family. While she was in Taiwan, she finally received her letter for the Oath Ceremony--18 months after her Citizenship interview!

Tammy was very happy to receive the letter, but there was a small problem. The Oath Ceremony was on August 6 and she was going on vacation to the Canadian Rockies on August 8. She must have a passport to go to Canada. What should she do?

Tammy called her daughter, Carol, in California. Checking the internet, Carol found out that the US State Department, not the USCIS, issues US passports.

The US State Department does not manage relations between US states, such as California and Nevada. The US State Department manages relations between the United States and other countries, such as the United States and Canada. The Travel Department of the US State Department issues passports for US Citizens and visas for visitors to the United States.

Because Tammy needed a passport quickly, Carol made an appointment for Tammy at the San Francisco Passport Agency.

  • The San Francisco Passport Agency only serves customers who are traveling, or submitting their passports for foreign visas, within 14 days.

  • To apply at the Agency, you must schedule an appointment by calling toll-free at 1-877-487-2778, 24 hours/day.

  • If you are not traveling, or needing to submit your passport for foreign visas within 14 days, you must apply at a Passport Application Acceptance Facility.

  • On August 8, the day after her Oath Ceremony, Tammy and Carol went to the SFPA for her appointment.

    San Francisco Passport Agency
    95 Hawthorne Street, 5th Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94105-3901

    Tammy gave the agent her application, fee, and 2 passport photos. The passport agent did not ask her many questions, but only checked her passport application. Then the agent gave Tammy a new passport.

    Twenty-seven hours after becoming an American Citizen, Tammy Chen can use her new US Passport to travel to outside of the United States.

    Tammy is overjoyed to become a US Citizen and her family is thrilled to go on vacation together. Congratulations and Bon Voyage!

    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    Lost Boy becomes US Citizen!

    The San Jose Mercury News is proud to present the story of Simon Kuir Deng, former Lost Boy of Sudan, who has found a new home in San Jose as a US citizen. During this ceremony, my students, Chen Fu Chiu, Wu Wan Jung, and others, also became citizens.

    The related article also details the conflict between federal and local voting officials, who allowed people to register to vote immediately before the Oath Ceremony.

    Friday, August 8, 2008

    CBP: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    CBP: U.S. Customs and Border Protection protects the borders of the United States from terrorism, human and drug smuggling, illegal migration, and agricultural pests. Video.

    Every day, CBP welcomes more than 1.1 million international travelers into United States at its land, sea, and air ports!

    Border Patrol officers guard US borders. Here is a photo gallery the Border Patrol at work.

    When travellers come through US "Customs," they must show their passport to a Customs officer. Here is a photo gallery of Customs Officers working at an airport. Listen to a conversation between a Customs Officer and a woman re-entering the United States.

    CBP has information sheets about what a traveller should "Know Before You Go" outside of the United States.

    CBP, ICE, USCIS are departments under the Department of Homeland Security.

    Thursday, August 7, 2008

    ICE: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

    ICE is the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • ICE enforces immigration & customs laws.
  • ICE goes to worksites to check if the employees can work in the US legally.
  • ICE deports illegal aliens.
  • ICE stops human trafficking.
  • ICE stops illegal copying & the theft of intellectual property.

  • ICE is frequently in the news. ICE is sometimes confused with the USCIS.

    USCIS is the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.

    • USCIS helps people to immigrate to the US.
    • After they fulfill the residency requirement, people can become naturalized US citizens.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2008

    USCIS: New "How do I?" Customer Guides

    On August 1, 2008, the USCIS published updated "how-to" or FAQs to help people with immigration and naturalization. These guides are available in a .pdf format for easy downloading and printing. Kudos, USCIS!

    A- U.S. Citizens
    A1- How Do I Help My Relative Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?
    A2- How Do I Help My Fiancé(e) Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?
    A3- How Do I Immigrate an Adopted or Prospective Adopted Child or Help My Adopted Child Become a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident?
    A4- How Do I Get Proof of My U.S. Citizenship?
    A5- How Do I Get Information About Requirements for Traveling Abroad?

    B- Permanent Residents

    B1- How Do I Help My Relative Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?
    B2- How Do I Renew or Replace My Permanent Resident Card?
    B3- How Do I Apply for U.S. Citizenship?
    B4- How Do I Know What My Responsibilities Are?
    B5- How Do I Get a Reentry Permit?

    C- Nonimmigrants
    C1- How Do I Extend My Nonimmigrant Stay in the United States?
    C2- How Do I Change to Another Nonimmigrant Status?
    C3- How Do I Replace a Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record?

    D- Refugees and Asylees

    D1- How Do I Help My Relative Get Refugee or Asylee Status in the United States?
    D2- How Do I Show My Employer That I Am Authorized to Work in the United States?
    D3- How Do I Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?
    D4- How Do I Get a Refugee Travel Document?

    E- Employers

    E1- How Do I Hire a Foreign National for Short-Term Employment in the United States?
    E2- How Do I Sponsor an Employee for U.S. Permanent Resident Status?
    E3- How Do I Complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification?
    E4- How Do I Use E-Verify?

    F- General Information

    F1- How Do I Know What Services Are Available After I File?
    F2- How Do I Change My Address With USCIS?
    F3- How Do I Financially Sponsor Someone Who Wants to Immigrate?

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008


    The "25th Annual National Night Out" (NNO), is a national crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW). This year's NNO has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 5, 2008.

    National Night Out campaign brings together neighbors, police, civic groups, businesses, and local officials from over 10,000 communities from all over the US and Canada. In all, over 35 million people participated in National Night Out 2007.

    The 4 goals of NATIONAL NIGHT OUT are:

    • Tell people how to stop crime.

    • Support local anti-crime programs.

    • Help neighborhoods and police work together.

    • Send a message to criminals--We're fighting crime!

    Many people show their support for NNO by turning on their porch light, sitting outside for the evening, and chatting with their neighbors and patrol officers.

    San Jose and Milpitas will have several NNO events. To find a NNO event in your neighborhood, vist National Night Night.

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    CBS: Craig Ferguson's Citizenship Test

    January 29, 2008: Enjoy this funny (but true) video of Craig Ferguson, formerly of Scotland (and currently the host of the CBS Late Late Show) as he takes and passes his official U.S. citizenship test. Good job, Craig!

    Sunday, August 3, 2008


    N-400 Part 10 Section E #25 asks "Are there any removal, exclusion or deportation proceedings pending against you?"

    During the Citizenship interview, this question is usually asked: "Have you ever been deported?"

    Here are three stories about deportation:

    Simple English News 06/25/07: A Politician Could Be Deported Article & Audio

    NYTimes o8/03/08: Immigrants Deported by U.S. Hospitals Article Video

    NYTimes 07/11/08: An Interpreter Speaking Up for Migrants Article & Video

    Saturday, August 2, 2008 Interviews with Today's Immigrants

    As part of online exhibit: Immigration...The Changing Face of America, the Library of Congess has collected Interviews of Today's Immigrants conducted by students and teachers. The interviews are organized by geographic region, and list the name of the interviewer, the interviewee, relationship, age at immigration, year of immigration, and port of entry. Each story is fascintating, heartbreaking, and inspirational.

    While you are at the LOC website, checkout the other Library of Congress Digital Collections featuring photos, videos, music, audio clips, and essays on thousands of topics.

    Did you know that the original Library of Congress was destroyed when the British burned down Washington DC during the War of 1812?

    Less than a day after the attack began, a hurricane which included a tornado passed through Washington DC, damaging the British navy and putting out the fires in the capital. A week later, the British attacked Fort McHenry (between Washington DC and Baltimore), inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the
    Star Spangled Banner. The retired President Thomas Jefferson donated his personal library to re-establish the Library of Congress.

    Friday, August 1, 2008

    Our Advice

    On the last day of Summer School, the US Citizenship class went to Pho Nguyen to celebrate the successful "PASS!" of one of our fella students, Diem. We also congratulated the students who had already passed their interview, and encouraged our fellow soon-to-be-citizens. Our advice:

    Study hard before the interview.

    Stay calm during the interview.

    Celebrate your success!