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that others disagree and object to words like “abjure” and “potentate” that they call archaic and obscure.

Reasonable people can disagree about the utility of these two words, but what is absolutely essential are three major points. First. Congress should decide the Oath

The Oath is a serious expression of American national identity (like, for example, the National Anthem) that should be decided by the elected representatives of the people. No single Administration should be able to change or alter the words of the Dath on their own volition. Second. The Five Elements of the Current Oath must be maintained.

This means that either the current historic oath should be codified as is, or codified with some very minor stylistic changes (by, for example, dropping one or two words such as “abjure” and “potentate.") The five elements of the current oath (some of which has been in use since the 1790s), and the core language of the current oath should be the “default position.” The five elements are the substantive heart of the Oath. It is imperative to retain these five elements and the traditional core phrases of the Oath that focus the mind and stir the soul, such as: “I absolutely and entirely

all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign state or sovereignty; "that I will defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic;" “that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States; "that I will bear true faith and allegiance;" “that I take this

obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, so help me God.” Third. Questions on the meaning of the Oath should be part of the civics/history test

that applicants for citizenship take. In today's post 9/11 and globalizing world of increasing transnational ties and continuous high immigration, it is more important than ever that we get citizenship naturalization right. It is vital that the meaning of the Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance remain clear to all citizens, immigrant and native born alike. Our new fellow citizens should clearly understand the nature of the moral commitment that they are making to the American democratic republic.

Therefore, we think it is essential that questions on the meaning and significance of the Oath (and the five elements of the Oath) be incorporated into the historygovernment test that applicants for citizenship take. Upon beginning the naturalization process, candidates for citizenship should be given study guides that clearly explain the meaning of the Oath (and its five elements) and told that there will be questions about it on the test. At this point, what could be considered as more obscure terms could be explained with examples given. For example, Osama Bin Laden meets one definition of potentate (“one who dominates or leads any group or endeavor.")

It should be clearly explained to new citizens by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, that the Oath means that they have a moral obligation to give up all political allegiance, loyalty, and citizenship, from their birth nations and from non-state foreign powers, and that upon taking the Oath, their sole political allegiance is to the United States of America.

Incorporating the principles and elements of the Oath in the citizenship test should not be difficult. They could be incorporated into a multiple choice test or other format. Currently candidates for citizenship are asked questions such as: What is the Constitution? What are the duties of Congress? Name one benefit of becoming a citizen of the United States? The current test also includes less appropriate questions such as “What INS (USCIS) form is used to apply to become a naturalized citizen”? Certainly candidates for American citizenship could also be asked questions such as: “What does the Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance mean”? “What do new citizens promise to do when taking the Oath”? “What is one thing that new citizens promise to do when taking the Oath”?

Including serious questions on the meaning of the Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance in the citizenship test would help make the naturalization process what it should be. That is to say, it should be a “rite of passage, “much as a communion, confirmation, bar or bat mitzvah, graduation, or wedding ceremony. For as James Madison declared in Federalist 49 our democratic republic requires both “enlightened reason” and a certain degree of “veneration” in order to endure.

From a serious orientation program at the beginning of the process when immigrants first apply for citizenship, to studying for and passing the history/government and language tests, to the final ceremony, the citizenship naturalization experience should be meaningful, dignified and inspiring. In short it should foster patriotism. For new Americans, the naturalization process should be a major life-altering experience.

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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Dr. Fonte.
Dr. Schoenholtz?

STATEMENT OF ANDREW SCHOENHOLTZ, DEPUTY DIRECTOR,

INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Mr. SCHOENHOLTZ. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is an honor to be here speaking with everyone.

Comprehensible, solemn and meaningful, that is what the naturalization oath of the United States should be, declared the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform in 1997, after considered reflection. As the former deputy director of the Commission, I am pleased to explain to you why the Commission reached that conclusion and proposed a new oath.

First, a word on the Commission. Congress established and funded this body for a period of 5 years, from 1992 to 1997, to study and make recommendations on the reform of our immigration laws and policies where needed. The Commission consisted of nine members: four appointed by the Senate, two Republicans and two Democrats; four appointed by the House, two Republicans and two Democrats, and the chair appointed by the President. Former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan chaired the commission until her death in 1996, when former Education Secretary and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Shirley Hufstedler became chair.

Importantly, the Commission worked by consensus. Most decisions were unanimous. The decision to recommend a new oath was agreed to by all nine commissioners. With respect to the oath, the Commission first examined the current law, which has remained unchanged since its enactment in 1952. The statute requires the five elements that have already been discussed today.

The Commission determined that the statute continued to serve the national interests of the United States and did not need any change. The Commission then carefully examined the form of the oath that the Executive Branch established pursuant to regulation. The commissioners found that form wanting, particularly in terms of clarity. They doubted that most people understood the dated language of abjure and potentate, the archaic form and the convoluted grammar of that oath.

They believed, however, that newly-naturalized citizens must understand exactly what they are saying when they pledge allegiance to this country and to what it stands for. The commissioners determined that the oath needed to be comprehensible in order to be meaningful and solemn. To ensure that the oath conveyed the core meaning of becoming an American citizen, they asked Commissioner Richard Estrada, an eloquent writer and at the time a journalist for the Dallas Morning News, to draft a new oath.

Generally, consensus was not easily achieved by this very diverse group of nine commissioners. A unanimous recommendation, based on a proposal by Commissioner Estrada, one of the most conservative members of the Commission, was a real challenge. But in this case, the Republican appointed by Senator Simpson of Wyoming did all of his persuading through lucid and eloquent language. For all nine commissioners, the recommended oath delivered the solemnity and meaning of the extraordinary occasion of becoming an American citizen in a clear and fluent fashion.

In recommending this new oath, the Commission made two important determinations: first, they found that Congress had fulfilled its legislative duties well in setting forth the five required elements of the oath. Second, they recognized that language is a living expression of culture that grows and evolves; that the American language had evolved considerably since the language of the current oath started developing in the 18th Century and that from time to time, the Executive Branch should update the language so that those naturalizing understand and appreciate the solemnity and meaning of becoming an American citizen.

From the Commission's point of view, then, H.R. 3191, which would codify the current regulatory oath, should not be enacted for two important reasons: first, as I just explained, clear language is needed to make the oath solemn and meaningful. H.R. 3191 would prevent this needed reform from taking place. Second, Congres has duly exercised its legislative responsibility by setting forth the required elements of the oath and has rightfully determined, until now, that the Executive Branch is best suited to establish the specific language of the oath that incorporates all the required elements.

In its wisdom, Congress has already recognized that the difficult process of legislative change should not be imposed in this area by specifying the language of the oath in statute. By setting out the language of the oath in statute, H.R. 3191 would make it considerably more difficult for future generations to ensure that the naturalization oath is clear, solemn and meaningful.

In contrast, I know that the Commission would be pleased that Director Aguirre of the Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services has taken their recommendation to heart and hopes to do precisely what the Commission intended: create a clear, solemn and meaningful oath for the new citizens today. I have no doubt that the commissioners would unanimously support him in his endeavor, particularly if a new oath reflects the eloquence of Commissioner Estrada's lucid words.

Members of the Committee, thank you for considering my testimony today. [The prepared statement of Mr. Schoenholtz follows:]

PREPARED STATEMENT OF ANDREW I. SCHOENHOLTZ Comprehensible, solemn, and meaningful. That is what the naturalization oath of the United States should be, declared the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform in 1997 after considered reflection. As the former Deputy Director of that Commission, I am pleased to explain to you why the Commission reached that conclusion and proposed a new oath.

First, a word on this Commission. Congress established and funded this body for a period of five years (1992–1997) to study and make recommendations on the reform of our immigration laws and policies where needed. The Commission consisted of 9 members: four appointed by the Senate (two Republicans and two Democrats), four appointed by the House (two Republicans and two Democrats), and the Chair appointed by the President. Former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan chaired the Commission until her death in 1996, when former Education Secretary and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler became chair.

Importantly, the Commission worked by consensus. Most decisions were unanimous. The decision to recommend a new oath was agreed to by all nine Commissioners.

With respect to the naturalization oath, the Commission first examined the current law, which has remained unchanged since enactment in 1952. The statute requires that the oath contain five elements:

(1) support for the Constitution; (2) renunciation of prior allegiance; (3) defense of the Constitution and the laws of the United States against all

enemies, foreign and domestic; (4) true faith and allegiance to the Constitutions and laws; and (5) a commitment to bear arms or perform noncombatant service when required

by law. The Commission determined that the statute continued to serve the national interest of the United States and did not need any change.

The Commission then carefully examined the form of the oath that the Executive branch established pursuant to the statute in Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 337.1:

"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 eva

sion; so help me God.” The Commissioners found that form wanting, particularly in terms of clarity. They doubted that most people understood the dated language of “abjure” and “potentate,” the archaic form, and the convoluted grammar of the existing oath. They believed, however, that newly naturalized citizens must understand exactly what they are saying when they pledge allegiance to this country and what it stands for. The Commissioners determined that the oath needed to be comprehensible in order to be meaningful and solemn. To ensure that the oath conveyed the core meaning of becoming an American citizen, they asked Commissioner Richard Estrada, an eloquent writer and at the time a journalist for the Dallas Morning News, to draft a new oath.

Generally, consensus was not easily achieved by this very diverse group of nine Commissioners. A unanimous recommendation based on a proposal by Commissioner Estrada, one of the most conservative members of the Commission, was a real challenge. But in this case, the Republican appointed by Senator Simpson of Wyoming did all his persuading through lucid and eloquent language. For all nine commissioners, the recommended oath delivered the solemnity and meaning of the extraordinary occasion of becoming an American citizen in a clear and fluent fashion:

“Solemnly, freely, and without any mental reservation, I hereby renounce under oath all former political allegiances. My sole political fidelity and allegiance from this day forward is to the United States of America. I pledge to support and respect its Constitution and laws. Where and if lawfully required, I further commit myself to defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, either

by military or civilian service. This I do solemnly swear, so help me God." In recommending this new oath, the Commission made two important determinations. First, they found that Congress had fulfilled its legislative duties well in setting forth the five required elements of the oath. Second, they recognized that language is a living expression of culture that grows and evolves, the American language had evolved considerably since the language of the current oath started developing in the 18th century, and from time to time the Executive branch should update the language so that those naturalizing understand and appreciate the solemnity and meaning of becoming an American citizen.

From the Commission point of view, then, H.R. 3191, which would codify the current regulatory oath, should not be enacted for two important reasons. First, as I just explained, clear language is needed to make the oath solemn and meaningful. H.R. 3191 would prevent this needed reform from taking place. Second, Congress has duly exercised its legislative responsibility by setting forth the required elements of the oath and has rightfully determined until now that the Executive branch is best suited to establish the specific language of the oath that incorporates all the required elements. In its wisdom, Congress has already recognized that the difficult process of legislative change should not be imposed in this area by specifying the language of the oath in statute. By setting out the language in statute, H.R. 3191 would make it considerably more difficult for future generations to ensure that the naturalization oath is clear, solemn, and meaningful.

In contrast, I know that the Commission would be pleased that Director Aguirre at the Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services has taken their recommendation to heart and hopes to do precisely what the Commission recommended: create a clear, solemn and meaningful oath for the new citizens of today. I have no doubt that the Commissioners would unanimously support him in this endeavor-particularly if a new oath reflects the eloquence of Commissioner Estrada's lucid words.

Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for considering my testimony today. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have at this time.

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Dr. Schoenholtz.

We will now turn to questions. Representative Ryun, do you believe that any of the language of the oath as it is today is archaic and should be more modern?

Mr. RYUN. Mr. Chairman, some of the words are not widely-used; at the same time, if there is a way of modernizing it without compromising the intent, you know, I am not opposed to that. H.R. 3191 does not preclude being able to modernize in some way. I think one thing that I want to keep with the intent here is that, you know, some of the words are a little difficult. However, what they do is they cause the immigrant working through this to pause and realize the seriousness of what they're doing. If there's something we can do without compromising the intent, then yes, I think that is substantially fine. That is what the intent of the bill is.

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Do you believe that the five principles of citizenship embodied in the oath are as meaningful today as they were when Congress wrote them?

Mr. RYUN. They are meaningful if not more meaningful as a result of the things that have happened in recent time.

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Very good.

Mr. Aguilar, it was not Citizenship and Immigration Services' intent, was it, to imply in the proposed oath of last year that the only duty that naturalized citizens have to defend the Constitution and laws of the United States is by being consented to being drafted and not a lifelong obligation to uphold the principles of our republic in everything that they do, was it?

Mr. AGUILAR. No, not at all.

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Your microphone, if you could—that is all right.

Mr. AGUILAR. No, not at all, and I should clarify that at this point, we are currently working on new language that is considerably different from the one that was circulated last year, and the fundamental thing that we are looking for here is that we, of course, include the five components that are required by the Immigration and Nationality Act.

But at the same time, because taking the oath is a legal action, we want to make sure that people taking the oath understand clearly what they are swearing allegiance to. So we definitely, and I agree with the Congressman, we want to strengthen the language. He mentioned, for example, that we should recognize all the geopolitical threats that our country recognizes right now. I think that is appropriate. Perhaps instead of mentioning all of the dif

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