Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested? In other words: have you ever done something illegal (anything at all) but never gotten caught for it? If so, and you are a legal resident applying for US citizenship, you legally must admit all details of your crime, and essentially turn yourself in. The direct question is part of the US government's current INS (Immigration & Naturalization Services) form for permanent residents, who have been here in the USA for over five years, who are applying for US citizenship. The form in question is the N-400 INS Application for Naturalization ten page questionnaire. It must be accompanied by a money order for approx $400, a fee that is scheduled to increase substantially by the end of this month when it's raised to $675. As a result there's been a significant surge in the number of applicants at INS offices around the US trying to get the application process rolling by the July 30th cutoff date for the lower application fees. NOTE: Due to the huge rush on INS offices, the same day this AMOEBLOG was posted, the date for the new rates was extended until August 17th.
But the fee increase is only one reason for the rush. The other reasons are more serious and are rooted in the new post 9/11 America -- where racial profiling has become more common a practice and border crossing has gotten increasingly more difficult for non-Americans, even if they are US "residents' or Green Card holders. More importantly, the consequences of the possible new immigration laws means that many immigrants, especially Mexicans, whose status is currently "Alien" figure that now is the time to up their status and try to become US citizens.