Donald Trump is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination; a man who has built his campaign on inflammatory, racist rhetoric while also insisting that he will “do really well with Hispanics.” However, come November, Trump may finally see that the majority of Latinos are not here for him. According to the New York Times, Trump has actually prompted a naturalization blitz, pushing Latinos to become naturalized citizens in time to vote in the presidential election.
“I want to vote so Donald Trump won’t win,” said Hortensia Villegas to the NYT. “He doesn’t like us.” Just in her family, there are five others who are working to become citizens, and before the rise of Trump, she never had a reason to seek citizenry.
In an election year, it’s common to see a spike in naturalizations, but this year, there may be 1 million applications – 200,000 more than in recent years. There are 2.7 million Mexicans eligible for naturalization, and 8.8 million people overall. Naturalization drives are happening in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.
Obstacles like the high naturalization fee ($680) and the fact that the test in in English have kept some from pursuing naturalization.These are real concerns but they can be overcome by seeking help. Many communities have organizations that offer English lessons with the specific purpose of preparing people for the naturalization test.
The English-language requirement can also be waived if a person is 50 years old and has been a legal permanent resident for 20 years, or is 55 and has been a resident for 15 years. They will still have to take a civics test, but it’ll be in Spanish. As for the $680 application fee, it can be waived if a person truly cannot pay the fee.
In the meantime, there will be a rush to get naturalization applications in before May 1, which means that Trump should be worried. Mary Victorio, 22, credits Trump with helping to mobilize Latinos. She said, “He gave us that extra push we needed to get ready to vote, to prove to people who see us negatively they are wrong.”