A coalition of amnesty activists that’s seeking to amass political power insists Republican rhetoric — particularly surrounding the presidential election — has motivated thousands of legal permanent residents to become citizens and register to vote.
The coalition of about a half dozen left-learning groups — dubbed the “Stand Up To Hate” campaign — says that, since January, it has hosted over 300 workshops aimed at encouraging legal permanent residents to naturalize and vote.
Their effort has engaged more than 500,000 legal permanent residents and, over the past two months, has helped to fill out 12,781 naturalization forms, “Stand Up To Hate” campaign representative Josh Hoyt, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.
With an estimated 8.8 million legal permanent residents eligible for naturalization, the campaign says it has a goal of one million naturalizations this year, a 37 percent increase over the standard annual rate of naturalization. The intention is to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“There is something going on here and the way Donald Trump and other Republicans have been talking about immigrants and refugees and Latinos and Asians, and Muslims, is frankly scaring people into becoming citizens,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a “Stand Up To Hate” campaign leader, said on Wednesday’s conference call.
He added that in his travels and participation at various naturalization workshops, he has seen “lines out the door” of immigrants seeking citizenship.
“We could literally hold a citizenship workshop every weekend and still not satisfy the demand,” he added.
While the “Stand Up To Hate” campaign has put a great deal of attention and resources on recruiting immigrants to become eligible another aspect of the campaign is a voter registration effort aimed at recruiting voting-age high schoolers.
“We are very proud to announce that tomorrow, May 12, across many battleground states, many national and local groups like Mi Familia Vota and others will launch a national campaign engaging high school students,” Rocío Saenz, the president of iAmerica Action and international executive vice president of the SEIU, explained on Wednesday’s conference call.
Gutierrez added that while there has been a focus on immigrants as potential voters, the most growth on their side will be Latinos turning 18 years-old.
“The real growth in the Latino electorate this year is going to be the millions of young people who are old enough to vote for the first time,” he said, praising the SEIU’s upcoming registration drive. “We need to go to graduating classes across this country and make sure we sign those 18 year-olds up to vote.”
Also participating in Wednesday’s call were representatives from UNITE HERE, Mi Familia Vota and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.