White House Campaign Urges Legal Immigrants to Become (Voting) Citizens

From: nytimes.com,  by Julia Preston,  on Sep 17, 2015,  see the article HERE.


White House officials announced the start of a nationwide campaign on Thursday to encourage legal immigrants to become American citizens, which could add millions of voters to the electorate in time for the presidential election next year.

With about 8.8 million legal residents in the country who are eligible to become citizens, White House officials said they were trying to make it easier to complete the final steps to citizenship.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency in charge of naturalizations, will offer practice tests on cellphones for the civics exam that immigrants must pass, but which many find daunting, and will hold preparatory workshops in rural areas. Applicants will also be able to pay the fee, still a hefty $680, with a credit card.

The White House is working with regional immigrant groups to organize more than 70 citizenship workshops and about 200 naturalization ceremonies in the coming week alone. Four citizenship ambassadors have been named, including Fernando Valenzuela, the Mexican-born former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who recently became an American citizen after many years in the United States.

Also in the works are local initiatives to make immigrants feel more welcome, and a revision of Justice Department regulations that would make it easier for people who want to help immigrants naturalize to obtain credentials to provide basic volunteer legal assistance.

The officials said they had started the campaign this week because Thursday is Citizenship Day. But the White House is also aware of federal figures showing that about 60 percent of immigrants eligible to naturalize are Latino and about 20 percent are Asian, both groups that voted overwhelmingly for President Obama. Nearly a third of legal permanent residents eligible to naturalize are Mexican.

The campaign, which includes a blitz of television ads with a welcoming message for immigrants, gives Mr. Obama a chance to set up a contrast with Republicans vying to succeed him. In the Republican debate on Wednesday night, Donald J. Trump, the real estate magnate who has been leading the polls among the Republican candidates, returned to his hard-line proposals that include building a wall along the length of the southern border.

“We have a lot of really bad dudes in this country from outside,” Mr. Trump said, claiming that undocumented immigrants include many gang members and drug dealers. “First day, they’re going,” he said, referring to Baltimore and Chicago as places where deportations of criminals would begin.

Mr. Trump said he would deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants, then selectively allow some to return. Ben Carson, the pediatric surgeon in the Republican race who has seen a recent rise in the polls, also said he would consider mass deportation of all immigrants in the country illegally.

“If anybody knows how to do that, I would be willing to listen,” Mr. Carson said. “I think it’s worth discussing.”

The debate also highlighted the divide among Republicans themselves, with former Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio, both of Florida, arguing against mass roundups and in favor of some path to legal status.

Some Republicans said they were concerned about political overtones in the campaign.

“I think it’s healthy for a democracy for people to become citizens,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. “Sadly, I think the administration went overboard. A full-fledged campaign from the White House telling people to become a citizen, I think it is politicizing the naturalization process.” Mr. Aguilar, a Republican, was head of the citizenship office at the immigration agency for six years under the administration of President George W. Bush. He urged Congress to keep an eye on the campaign to make sure it did not go beyond civics education.

Mr. Obama’s citizenship campaign is part of a package of executive actions first announced in November. The most ambitious of them, a plan to provide protection from deportation and work permits to about five million undocumented immigrants, was challenged in a lawsuit by 26 states and has been blocked in the courts.

For now, White House officials have turned to the citizenship drive, which offers nothing for immigrants without legal status. To be eligible for naturalization, immigrants must have been legal permanent residents for at least three years and, in most cases, five years. The officials insisted the effort was nonpartisan.

Many groups collaborating with the campaign on training workshops are advocates who seek citizenship for undocumented immigrants as well, and who have been alarmed by the tough tone of the Republican campaign.

“We want to build off the negative energy,” said Tara Raghuveer, policy and advocacy director for the National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of immigrant groups that is holding dozens of events during the campaign. “People are hearing the hate and racist xenophobia on the national stage from the presidential candidates. They are angry, and this is an opportunity for us to organize.”

Several Spanish-language media outlets will be carrying Mr. Obama’s ads, including Univision, which has feuded with Mr. Trump.


EVERY CITIZEN, regardless of political party should be OUTRAGED by this. Obama, with the enthusiastic support of the democrat party is doing everything in their power to naturalize new U.S. citizens – they say their drive is nonpartisan – if you believe that, I’ve got beachfront property for sale in Dallas that should interest you. Some groups are also advocating for citizenship for “undocumented immigrants” (read “illegal aliens) in order to get them to vote as well. Make no mistake, the democrats and Obama have no real interest in these immigrants other than for the democrat vote that they’re expected to provide.


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4 Responses to White House Campaign Urges Legal Immigrants to Become (Voting) Citizens

  1. Hardnox says:

    “We want to build off the negative energy,” – that’s the key right there. The left is all about hate and division. They are now desperate to hold on to power because they see the silent majority has woken up thanks to Trump.

    So what are the states going to do? What about the Turkey and the Drunk in Congress? Nada.

  2. Kathy says:

    If they really wanted to ‘make it easier to complete the final steps to citizenship’ they would streamline the process, make it less expensive, and most of all speed it up.

    I know people that have been waiting for decades because of lost paperwork, personnel changes, etc and there’s just no way it should take that long.

    Of course, it’s all about voting, just like always, but at this point I doubt O cares much about helping the dem party. He’s just doing this to aggravate the Rs.
    I’m surprised he didn’t start this sooner when he could have benefitted from the additional votes.

  3. Uriel says:

    We have all said all along. People are welcome here who follow the law and LEGALLY wish to become citizens of our country. They should have the ONLY priority to move them through the process and welcome them.

    I hear “undocumented immigrants” is supposed to be the new PC. Uhh NO. They came into our country through tunnels or other means which are not legal. Very few have any burning desire to follow our laws and become assimilated into our country.

    We get really antsy when having stood in a line a long time, someone barges into the front of the line. In fact they are usually arrested or receive angry crowd comments. This is no different.

    I have heard several immigrants mourn that it has been years that they have been waiting and that is ridiculous. I bet congressmen who were forced to wait so long would find a way to force someone to do their job or throw a massive tantrum.

  4. Buck says:

    Already the electoral process has become lopsided and tends towards a majority rule Democracy.
    For whatever reason election via popular vote was done away with and maybe for the same reason. But history suggests the candidate who won the popular vote but lost the election seems to always be the more conservative. It seems the overpopulated states have, themselves, have brought in a Democracy style majority rule election process.
    With all the population centers in blue states it seems the conservative candidate is starting the race not even in the gate and has to play catch up all the November evening.
    Perhaps another Constitutional Amendment is needed giving each state ONE electoral vote making the red state’s voice heard as well as the blue.