Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and a coalition of immigration groups are launching a four-month campaign to pressure legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens and then vote against the Republican presidential candidate.
The nationwide campaign, titled “Stand up to Hate. Naturalize. Register. Vote,” is slated to include nearly 100 workshops to help get as many immigrants to become citizens and vote this election.
“We’ve got 8.8 million [legal] immigrants — over 3 million of them Latino — they’re eligible to become citizens today in the U.S.,” Gutierrez explained on a conference call with reporters Thursday.
“Our goal is to have 1 million immigrants to become new U.S. citizens this year. And we’ve got to get it done by the end of May,” he said.
He added that the May deadline is intended to allow all the citizenship paperwork to be processed with enough time to register before the election.
Gutierrez said that he believes that goal is achievable as about 660,000 immigrants regularly naturalize annually. The campaign, he noted, will bolster the normal naturalization rate.
“One of the main reasons that we’re recommending that people naturalize now is to stand up to the hate rhetoric of this political season,” said Gutierrez, who has been a vocal critic of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. “Imagine calling all Mexicans criminals, rapists. Imagine calling for a ban of all people of one religion from the U.S. That’s not making America great. It’s tearing us down.”
The Democratic legislator, who will be traveling around the country to the naturalization workshops, is joined in the effort by a group of immigration activist groups including the Latino Victory Foundation, National Partnership for New Americans, Mi Familia Vota, iAmerica Action and the SEIU.
“Our message is to the Latinos, to Mexicans, to the Muslims, to the immigrant communities of our nation. Yes, get angry, but then naturalize, register and vote,” he said.
Gutierrez added that he plans to call his travels the ‘Stand up to Hate Tour’ and will hold the first event in his home state of Illinois.