Trump’s rise driving immigrants to seek citizenship

Posted May 3, 2016 /

HYATTSVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) — In the midst of the presidential race, there seems to be a race against the clock where many immigrants are applying to be naturalized U.S. citizens so they can vote.

WUSA9 saw some of this Monday in Hyattsville Monday a U.S. citizenship information meeting was going on. That’s where we found 58-year-old Jose Reyes. He tells WUSA9 he’s been in the U.S. since President Ronald Regan granted many Central Americans amnesty in the 1980s.

Now, he’s upset with the party and wants U.S. citizenship so he can vote.

“It’s been a year [or more] of political attacks against us,” Reyes told WUSA9 in Spanish, speaking as an immigrant and speaking about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Reyes is part of a national trend where near the end of last year, the national number of citizenship applications jumped more than 14 percent from the year before according to U.S. Citizen Immigration Services, an office under the Department of Homeland Security.

The breakdown of months shows the numbers are consistently higher after last June, when Trump kicked-off his campaign calling Mexicans “drug dealers” and “rapists”.

“All of them, 95 percent of them say they want to vote as their reason,” said Pablo Blank with the immigrant advocacy group, CASA de Maryland. Blank says remarks made have created an anti-immigrant environment.

He also says CASA is service about three times as many applicants as they were last year, and the numbers are similar with partners across the DMV.

“It’s important for us to help one another, said Reyes in Spanish.

Blank says about 80 percent of the people they see applying are Hispanic and about 15 percent are mostly from French-speaking African Countries.

“It was a call to action,” said Blank when asked what anti-immigrant comments have done to the immigrant community.