US Immigrants Rush To Become Citizens
Trump, the GOP front-runner, has pledged to deport the estimated 11 million people living in the US illegally
On a recent Saturday morning in South Florida, 50-year- old Edgar Ospina stood in a long line of immigrants to take the fi rst step to become an American. Ospina has spent almost half his life in the US after emigrating from his native Colombia, becoming eligible for citizenship in 1990. But with Donald Trump becoming a more likely presidential nominee by the day, Ospina decided to wait no more, rushing the paperwork required to become a citizen. “Trump is dividing us as a country,” said Ospina, owner of a small flooring and kitchen remodelling company. “He’s so negative about immigrants. We’ve got to speak up.” Nationwide, immigrants like Ospina are among tens of thousands applying for naturalisation in a year when immigration has taken center stage in the presidential campaign, especially in the race for the Republican nomination. Mr Trump, the GOP frontrunner, has pledged to deport the estimated 11 million people living in the US illegally. He’s also vowed to bar Muslims from entering the country and threatened to cut off remittances that Mexican immigrants in the US send back home.
And he’s called for building a border wall — among other proposals to deal with unlawful immigration, saying the federal government has failed to protect the border from people and drugs illegally entering the country. That rhetoric, immigrant advocates and lawmakers say, is driving many foreign- born residents to seek citizenship. “There is fear of a Trump presidency,” said Maria Ponce of iAmerica Action, a Washington-based immigrant rights group that is teaming up with other organisations to help those seeking citizenship — part of a national campaign called “Stand Up To Hate.”
They’ve sponsored naturalisation workshops from Washington state to Nebraska and Massachusetts.
Nationwide, naturalisation applications are up 14 per cent in the last six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, according to the government. And the pool of future US citizens is large. Nearly nine million legal permanent residents, or greencard holders, are eligible to become Americans. Of those, about four million are Hispanic.
Against Donald Trump...US immigrants are fast-tracking their naturalisation papers fearing Mr Trump’s policy on illegal immigrants.