Trump motivating immigrants to naturalize in big numbers
There have been a number of news stories lately about a surge in naturalizations by immigrants anxious to vote against Donald Trump in the presidential election. Here's a link to the latest, from Puplic Radio International's "The World":
Nationwide, citizenship applications totaled more than 202,000 during the fourth quarter of last year, up 14 percent from the same quarter in 2014, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In San Diego County, the effect is most pronounced in certain neighborhoods. In Chula Vista, where more than half of the population is Latino, citizenship applications jumped 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to the same period the previous year. About 8.8 million US residents are eligible for citizenship.
The increased citizenship interest among Latinos has contributed to a spike in programs meant to lend them a hand in the process, such as a series of workshops called Caltivando Liderazgo, led by the National Latino Research Center at California State University San Marcos. “So what it means is essentially nurturing or cultivating leadership,” says director Arcela Nuñez-Álvarez.
The workshops are free and held in public spaces across the county, including libraries, schools and churches. The curriculum includes the content of the citizenship test and a review of US politics and history, with activities designed to help immigrants memorize the material, such as games of Jeopardy. Additionally, the workshop leaders, Cal State University San Marcos volunteers, connect prospective citizens with lawyers and other resources to help them naturalize.
Civic engagement among Latinos in the county is low considering the size of the population, Nuñez-Álvarez says, but the tide is shifting. “Trump is definitely a big factor that I think is really pushing people to think about what kind of government we want to have, if he really represents immigrants, Latinos,” she says.