Saturday, April 20, 2024

Today we March:Tomorrow we Vote-Increase in Latinos obtaining citizenship in 2007

Spanish Language Media and Community groups credited for increase in citizenship applications. Efforts of organizations such as Naleo are showing results

The number of citizenship applications filed doubled to 1.4 million last year, the report by the U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics found.

The surge in naturalization of Mexicans, their largest year-to-year increase this decade, came amid pitched national debate over immigration reform. The report cited the campaign by Spanish-language media and community groups, along with a desire to apply before steep fee increases took effect, as two major reasons for the jump in naturalizations.

“Immigrants are tired of the tone and tenor of the immigration debate, which they feel is humiliating and does not recognize their contributions,” said Rosalind Gold of the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ Educational Fund in Los Angeles. “That climate has fueled their desire to have their voices heard.”

More than 400 community organizations across the country, along with major Spanish-language media, have joined forces in a “Ya Es Hora” (It’s Time) campaign to help eligible voters become citizens and register to vote. The campaign plans to hold naturalization workshops in 10 cities Saturday.

“We think with this type of promotion and outreach, we can really rewrite this story of Latino naturalizations,” Gold said.

However, steep fee increases last July sharply reduced the overall monthly number of new applicants from August to December. Applications peaked at 457,000 in July, then plummeted to a monthly average of about 30,000 after the application fee increased to $675 from $400.

The new report found that California posted the largest gains in new citizens in 2007, from 153,000 the year before to 182,000; followed by Texas, from 38,000 to 53,000; and Illinois, from 30,000 to 39,000.

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La Times