Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke expressed an openness to ending the requirement that immigrants pass a test before becoming a citizen, according to Yahoo News.
The comment was reported on Twitter by reporter Brittany Shepherd, who heard O’Rourke speaking at a candidate forum in Des Moines, Iowa, this past weekend.
In typical lukewarm fashion, O’Rourke responded to a conversation about the eliminating the citizenship test as “something for us to think about.” Not exactly a full endorsement of the idea, but also not a rejection of it. Offending no one, impressing no one.
Another panelist had reportedly been discussing the idea that requiring immigrants to pass a test to earn citizenship was a “structural barrier” for immigrants.
As the process stands now, immigrants have to pass a two-part test before they can become citizens. One part tests English proficiency in reading, writing and speaking. The other part tests civics knowledge by asking applicants up to 10 questions out of a pool of 100. Six out of 10 is a passing grade on that portion.
Applicants have two chances to take the test each time they apply for citizenship.
O’Rourke’s stance caught the attention of Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R), according to RedState.
“Stunning. @BetoORourke says we should eliminate the citizenship exam, which tests new citizens’ knowledge of U.S. history and government,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “Why IN THE WORLD would he think that’s a bad thing? Dems running for Pres are embracing the far left, fringy, extreme wing of the party.”
O’Rourke continues to sag in the polls, and part of the problem is illustrated by the way expressed his view on this issue. Rather than taking sure stances and owning them, O’Rourke has a habit of saying that we need to have a conversation about this, or we need to think about that.
The result has been a campaign that has failed to make positive headlines and failed to drive the conversation in the primary in the same way candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or even South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have been able to do.