Chicken speak English

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

Immigration law is not all struggle and disappointment. There are also many, many millions of people who enjoy great benefit from a generous immigration system that permits people to immigrate to the United States and enjoy the fruits of our freedoms and prosperity. If there is any proof that immigrants make important contributions to American society, one is the large numbers of foreign-born Americans who work for the Department of Homeland Security in immigration functions for USCIS, ICE, and CBP.  There are also some humorous moments in immigration practice. [This posting is sounding like Readers Digest, isn’t it?]

A client recounted to me her experience naturalizing to become a United States citizen. She has a bit of an accent, but is very fluent in English having spent many years here from a young age. Her examiner had a thicker, Hispanic accent. As part of a naturalization examination, the examiner reads a sentence in English for the applicant to write down to test English language competency. The sentence the examiner read hastily with the Hispanic accent was, “She can speak English.” Because of the accent, the examinee heard the sentence as “Chicken speak English” and wrote that down, presumably without a flaw. The examiner saw this response and read the sentence more slowly and with better enunciation. The client wrote the sentence correctly, passed her exam and became a United States citizen.


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