The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency announced Friday that the new citizenship test will contain 128 civics items to study and requires applicants to answer 20 questions instead of 10. Applicants must also now answer 12 questions correctly to pass. The new test will remove geography questions and modify prior ones, such as requiring immigrants to name all three branches of government as opposed to one. Individuals who naturalize on or after Dec. 1 will take this new test. According to U.S. government statistics, over 840,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens in 2019, an 11 percent increase compared to the previous year. Associated Press
In other national immigration news…
Mexico Won’t Detain Migrant Children and Families Anymore
After receiving pressure from human rights groups, Mexico has decided it will no longer hold migrant children and families in detention centers. This reform will also provide migrants children temporary legal status in Mexico to avoid immediate deportation, and time for them to look for legal ways to remain in the country. About 12,000 unaccompanied children and 40,000 children with adults were held in Mexico’s detention centers in 2019, according to government figures. In the U.S., if an unaccompanied child arrives at the border, they would be sent to shelters while their families would remain in detention. Vice
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More Green Card Holders on the Path of Citizenship
More Green Card holders are taking the step to become U.S. citizens than in recent years. About 843,593 immigrants became citizens last year, which is the highest number in 11 years, according to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics. Pew Research Center reports over 23 million naturalized citizens were eligible to vote for the 2020 presidential election. The cost of becoming a naturalized citizen was expected to double this October, which possibly influenced green card holders to obtain their citizenship sooner. The projected cost increase was put on hold after immigrant-rights organizations sued. The Wall Street Journal
Incarcerated Firefighter Given to ICE After Almost Being Killed on Front Lines
Bounchan Keola faces possible deportation to Laos, a country he fled when he was only four. The incarcerated firefighter had two weeks left in prison when he was smashed by a tree while fighting the Zogg fire in northern California on Oct. 2. A few days later, prison officials informed federal immigration agents about his pending release. According to records, the state then made arrangements to directly transfer him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Keola grew up a U.S. permanent resident and is one of many refugees who face deportation because of California’s controversial policy of transferring foreign-born prisoners to ICE once they complete their prison sentences. The Guardian
Asylum Rejections Grow in Maine
A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit is searching for information regarding why the federal government is pushing a large percentage of asylum cases from Maine to immigration court instead of approving those asylum claims. U.S. Customs and Immigration Services’ Boston office approved 40 percent of asylum requests in late 2016, but that declined to under eight percent at the end of 2019, the Portland Press Herald reported. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine filed the lawsuit after receiving no response to their public records inquiry in 2019. They are asking the court to demand USCIS hand over case files, written policies and other documents that could clarify why Maine’s office has such a low approval rate. Associated Press
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