Hispanic Activists’ Anti-Trump Efforts Fall Flat as Citizenship Push Sputters

Stephan Dinan, Washington Times, June 8, 2016

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There’s little question that Mr. Trump’s outsized rhetoric has angered Hispanic activists overall, and Mexican immigrants in particular. But applications for citizenship are up just 6.6 percent compared to the same period in 2012, according to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and actual approvals are down slightly.

Groups say the numbers don’t jibe with the intensity they’re detecting when they hold citizenship workshops, and they’re hoping when all is said and done, the numbers will be higher.

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Nearly 9 million people in the country are eligible for citizenship but haven’t yet applied, providing a deep bench for the activists to target.

Of those eligible, about one-third are Mexican–a pool that activists said are particularly enraged at Mr. Trump, after he kicked off his campaign last June by saying Mexico sends rapists and other bad elements of its society to the U.S.

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April and May figures have yet to be released, but through the first three months of this year, 252,254 immigrants submitted citizenship applications, and USCIS approved 177,713. During the same period in 2012, the totals were 238,065 applications submitted and 179,548 approved.

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Groups haven’t given up hope of a bigger surge from April and May.

“We’re going to need to see what happens when it’s all over. We’re keeping our eye on it,” said Rosalind Gold, senior director of policy at the NALEO Educational Fund, which advocates for Latino causes.

The record year for new citizens was 2008, when 1,046,539 people took the oath of office. By contrast, in 2012, the last presidential election year, 757,434 people were sworn in as new Americans.

The 2008 surge was due in large part to a rush to beat a massive spike in the application fee. A smaller hike is pending now, which could help boost numbers this year.

The Obama administration is also trying to ease the process, announcing a major push to get folks to sign up. About one-third of those already eligible to be citizens would qualify for a fee waiver, and the administration has told activists it’s moving personnel around to try to handle applications quickly.

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