Obama Admin Provides $10 MIL Grant to Help Immigrants Become Citizens

The naturalization workshop drew a large crowd on Feb. 27, as immigrants rushed to naturalize in time to vote in November. Credit Theo Stroomer for The New York Times

US government launches massive campaign to help legal immigrants become citizens… so they can vote. 

White house recruiting Spanish speakers, pushing ads, a $10 MIL grant, and immigrant rights organizations holding workshops to build immigrant voting power… but it’s all nonpartisan, of course… or a plan to stop Trump?

From the New York Times:   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.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The administration has announced $10 million in grants to groups guiding immigrants through the process.[/pullquote]

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.

A majority of Latinos are Democrats, and some Republicans accuse the White House of leading a thinly veiled effort to expand the ranks of the president’s party. But administration officials argue the campaign is nonpartisan, noting that immigrants who become citizens improve their incomes and chances for homeownership.

“I certainly don’t care what party they register with; I just want them to become citizens,” said Leon Rodriguez, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency in charge of naturalizations.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Among the groups the White House is supporting are immigrant rights organizations and labor unions, which say their goal in holding dozens of citizenship workshops this spring is to build immigrant voting power.  Recently naturalized immigrants, after all the effort they must make, are more likely to vote than longtime citizens.[/pullquote]

Aside from Colorado, naturalization drives are taking place in Nevada and Florida, states likely to be fiercely contested in November where Latino voters could provide a crucial margin. One nonprofit group, the New Americans Campaign, plans to complete 1,500 applications at a session in the Marlins Park baseball stadium in Miami on March 19.

In a poll of Latino voters on Feb. 25 by The Washington Post and Univision, the Spanish language television network, 80 percent had an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump, including 72 percent with a very unfavorable view, far more than for other Republican candidates.

The campaign to recruit immigrants is working.   “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.

New citizens are sworn in during a naturalization ceremony in August in Washington. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

New citizens are sworn in during a naturalization ceremony in August in Washington. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said, “No one will benefit more from Mr. Trump’s pro-worker immigration reforms than the millions of immigrants who already call America home.” She said his proposals include “limiting the ability of corporations to replace them with new, lower-wage workers brought in from abroad.” Polls show Hispanic workers favor raising wages instead of importing foreigners, Ms. Hicks said, adding, “That is the core moral principle that will guide immigration policy in a Trump administration.”

Among 8.8 million legal residents eligible to naturalize, about 2.7 million are Mexicans, the largest national group, federal figures show.

There is no hard deadline for immigrants hoping to vote in November, but with the agency currently approving naturalizations in about five months, immigrant groups are pressing to get applications in before May 1 to allow new citizens time to register to vote.

(Via The NY Times)


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