Applications for citizenship are surging right now. According to the Texas Tribune, not only is the number of naturalization applications from Texas on the rise – jumping 14 percent, according to the latest numbers – but also thousands of legal permanent residents, those with green cards, are lining up for help at citizenship workshops. Thousands more are holding up their right hands and repeating the naturalization oath at citizenship ceremonies.
Iris Albizu, a Spanish-speaking radio host and immigration attorney, has been urging her listeners to become citizens now. She says it's important for people who have been in the U.S. for a long time to become citizens.
"This is a crucial moment for the Latino voters and people from our community," she says. "So we have been encouraging people that might be, right now, eligible to be citizens to start filing the applications and get ready for November."
About 1.3 million Texans are legal residents but not yet citizens, part of the close to nine million legal residents eligible for citizenship in the country. Albizu says the process takes about six months and the deadline to register to vote in Texas is October 11.
"I hope that people that get ready now, hopefully fifty percent of those people... can be already citizens," she says.
Albizu says her push comes from the presidential candidates we have and where they stand with immigration, in particular the possible changes candidates like Trump or Cruz may make that could take away the right to citizenship that these legal residents currently have.
"Many people have the fear that this new president and his team might do drastic changes in the immigration system, and change policies taking away benefits they already have," she says. "It's not only about this person that they dislike – it's also about making sure that they can also become citizens."
The long-held presumption is that as demographics change, those changes will benefit Democrats. Albizu says that may be the case, but she knows Latinos.
"To be honest, the Republican beliefs and their core, I think many Latinos... can identify with that party," she says. "Unfortunately, I don't think they have been addressing the Latino community the right way and that might be the reason why more Latinos might be aligned with the Democrats at this point."