The number one reason why an increase number of immigrants are applying for citizenship is because they want to vote. Recently, I was wondering if this was a phenomenon local to Long Island, and asked around with my colleagues in New York City. They all told me that they were seeing the same press of immigrants wanting to naturalize so they could vote.
Two weeks ago, CARECEN held a Citizenship Day event in Brentwood. We had ten volunteers assemble on a Saturday morning to fill out citizenship applications for all corners. Working under the supervision of our attorney, Wende Mitchell, the volunteers helped 25 immigrants apply for citizenship.
We used to hold these events four times a year and the average turnout was 12 applicants. Now we have citizenship days nearly a dozen times a year and the events get so overwhelmed with applicants that we usually have to turn away anyone who comes after 1:00 p.m.
The New York Times has taken note of this increase. According to a report in the newspaper, community groups in the city are holding a third more citizenship events to try to accommodate the rising tide of naturalization. The newspaper says that many of those it interviewed are applying now because they want to vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. Many said that the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is being used on the campaign trail has convinced them that if don’t vote, their communities will not have a voice.
Allan Wernick, the lawyer who runs CUNY Citizenship Now told the New York Times that “There’s something in the air saying that they’re coming for you, and that you better get as solid as you can.”
Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has cut delays for processing citizenship applications. It took more than nine months from application to citizenship ceremony just a few years ago. Now the process can be completed in just a few months. This means that even applicants applying in the first five months of 2016 have a chance of becoming citizens before the November elections.
Read the New York Times story HERE!