via American Renaissance
A legal immigrant from Mexico, Ms. Villegas is a mother of two who
has been living in the United States for nearly a decade but never felt
compelled to become a citizen. But as Mr. Trump has surged toward the
Republican nomination, Ms. Villegas–along with her sister, her parents
and her husband’s parents–has joined a rush by many Latino immigrants to
naturalize in time to vote in November.
“I want to vote so Donald Trump won’t win,” said Ms. Villegas, 32,
one of several hundred legal residents, mostly Mexicans, who crowded one
recent Saturday into a Denver union hall. Volunteers helped them fill
out applications for citizenship, which this year are taking about five
months for federal officials to approve. “He doesn’t like us,” she said.
Overall, naturalization applications increased by 11 percent in the
2015 fiscal year over the year before, and jumped 14 percent during the
six months ending in January, according to federal figures. The pace is
picking up by the week, advocates say, and they estimate applications
could approach one million in 2016, about 200,000 more than the average
in recent years.
While naturalizations generally rise during presidential election years, Mr. Trump provided an extra boost this year.
Among 8.8 million legal residents eligible to naturalize, about 2.7
million are Mexicans, the largest national group, federal figures show.
But after decades of low naturalization rates, only 36 percent of
eligible Mexicans have become citizens, while 68 percent of all other
immigrants have done so, according to the Pew Research Center.
This year immigrants seeking to become citizens can find extra help
from nonprofit groups and even from the White House. Last September,
President Obama opened a national campaign to galvanize legal residents
to take the step. They can now pay the fee, $680, with a credit card,
and practice the civics test online. They can get applications at
“citizenship corners” in public libraries in many states.
The White House recruited Fernando Valenzuela, the legendary
Mexican-born pitcher who naturalized only last year, and José Andrés,
the Spanish-American chef, to make encouraging advertisements and to
turn up at swearing-in ceremonies. On Presidents’ Day, administration
officials swore in more than 20,000 new citizens. On Wednesday the
administration announced $10 million in grants to groups guiding
immigrants through the process.