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united states citizenship & immigration services department of homeland security alien naturalization resource center

selected sample questions & answers for civics / american history

1. what is one power of the federal government?

my parents tell me that we are ALIENS

all of our family is in taiwan: all of our blood is there i do not apply for citizenship until it is dangerous not to do so until it is too late

2. what ocean is on the west coast of the united states?

they say to start something new on american soil, you need to cut it in half. everything i own becomes hyphenated no country will take me whole, only in parts. the american red

cross leaves a voicemail asking me to give my blood

so i MAIL IN another immigration form ​the post office begins to mark all of my letters as RETURN TO SENDER i do not go home

3. who is the father of our country?

we burn incense & paper money to greet my grandfathers buried somewhere that is not here. this morning, i read a statement where

the president tells me i DO NOT BELONG​ ​& i start to believe

in what he says a white man calls me a ​dirty lesbian a white man calls me a chink ​ ​still

another white man asks me WHERE ARE YOU FROM i don’t know what to claim as my HOME ADDRESS my lip begins to bleed

4. name one right only for u.s. citizens.

if all my blood is in taiwan my body must be hollow

if an alien is a bloodless body who writes us real if not on paper

if my ancestors only know me through smoke everything before a hyphen disappears

5. what is one promise you make when you become a u.s. citizen?

if they ask me for identification, my passport will be green. when it expires, i watch the immigration officer cut it in half the officer presses my hand into a book full of ink i forget

how to write my parents’ names in chinese

6. we elect a president for how many years?

i wonder if i too have an expiration date


LAUREL CHEN is a prison abolitionist and a migrant writer from Taiwan, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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