Houstonian Corner (V9-I9)

What do you think Muslims about the captioned billboard on this page?

For years this billboard right off I-35 just north of San Antonio memorialized abortion victims without contributing much else. This new message, then, is a step toward doing something, anything to actually reduce the number of abortions.

Now of course, the real question is whether the shift in rhetoric also signals a shift in policy. It’ll take more than a billboard to prove that’s the case.

Muslims can send their comments to: houston@muslimobserver.com.

Citizenship applicants take pilot naturalization test

Officials say of the 75 people, who took the naturalization test today in San Antonio, 62 passed.

San Antonio is among 10 cities nationwide, including El Paso, now giving the pilot test to applicants.

Maria Elena Garcia, with the Citizenship and Immigration Service, said, “This is a pilot test … we’re going to go ahead and try it out. We’re hoping to get at least 6,000 people within the next 3-4 months … once we gather that information if we need to change a few things maybe add or take away a few things then we’ll certainly do that.”

The exam includes civics questions, plus reading and writing portions that are slightly different from the current test. The pilot questions are designed to be about American concepts, as opposed to some current questions that require memorization of historical facts.

There’s no penalty for failing the voluntary pilot test; applicants can simply immediately take the current test if they fail the pilot.

Here’s a sampling of 140 or so naturalization test pilot questions, and answers that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will try out in ten cities:

Q: Name one important idea found in the Declaration of Independence.

A: People are born with natural rights; the power of government comes from the people; the people can change their government if it hurts their natural rights; or all people are created equal.

Q: Name one example of checks and balances.

A: The president vetoes a bill; Congress can confirm or not confirm a president’s nomination; Congress approves the president’s budget; or the Supreme Court strikes down a law.

Q: What is a veto?

A: The president refuses to sign a bill passed by Congress; the president says no to a bill; the president rejects a bill.

Q: What does it mean that the U.S. Constitution is a constitution of limited powers?

A: The federal government has only the powers that the Constitution states that it has or, the states have all powers that the federal government does not.

Q: Why did the colonists fight the British?

A: They had to pay high taxes but did not have any say about it (taxation without representation); the British army stayed in their houses (boarding, quartering); or the British denied the colonists self-government.

Q: What decides each state’s number of U.S. representatives?

A: The state’s population.

Q: What Cabinet-level agency advises the president on foreign policy?

A: The State Department.

Q: Name one thing only the federal government can do.

A: Print money; declare war; create an army; or make treaties.

Q: Name one of the things that Abraham Lincoln did.

A: Saved (or preserved) the Union; freed the slaves; or led the U.S. during the Civil War.

Q: Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream for America. What was his dream?

A: Equality for all Americans or civil rights for all.

Activists call for bank boycott

A coalition of anti illegal-immigration groups is calling for depositors to pull their money out of Bank of America. The coalition wants to pressure the financial institution to stop issuing credit cards to people without Social Security numbers.

William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, said, “it is a slap in the face to every American struggling with credit card debt and rocky credit scores.”

Rick Dovalina, district director for the League of United Latin American Citizens in Houston, has said the bank is just aiding the country’s attitude on trade. “How can you open up the border to trade if you don’t have any means of transferring money?”

This controversy exploded after a Wall Street Journal report on the nation’s second largest bank’s pilot program in Los Angeles. Betsy Weinberger, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, told the media in an E-Mail message that the Wall Street Journal was “wrong” to assert that the people in the program are typically illegal immigrants.

The full text of Weinberger’s statement:

“In order to have a deposit account at Bank of America, we require a social security number, or proof of US government federal taxpayer status, such as a federal government taxpayer identification number (ITIN). The U.S. Patriot Act customer identification requirements are fulfilled for all Bank of America customers. This particular credit card program requires an existing deposit account in order to qualify. This initiative lets customers build a solid credit history with a leading bank.”