Citizenship surge due to immigration controversy
ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC7) —
Wednesday night in Arlington local immigrants rallied to make their voices heard -- and some began the process of becoming a citizen.
Locally-based immigrant advocacy group CASA says it is seeing three times the interest from immigrants wanting to be citizens than it saw at this time last year. CASA says the political climate in this presidential election year is a big reason.
About 100 people attended Wednesday night's event, which CASA organized at Patrick Henry Elementary School.
At the rally local residents, politicians, and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D - Chicago) spoke about immigrant issues and rights.
But the biggest point of the night was encouraging eligible immigrants to become citizens.
Before the rally, several dozen people came to a session where they could seek help becoming a citizen.
One of those who came was Hilda Abraham, a mother of six from Mexico who says she has lived in Northern Virginia 26 years.
"I think it's time to be a citizen," she told ABC7.
Abraham says she wants to become a citizen so she can vote in the Presidential election this year.
"I don't like Trump," she said. "I'm sorry but I don't like [him]."
From the moment he announced his campaign for President, now-likely Republican nominee Donald Trump has made clear his opposition to immigrants illegally in the country.
"They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists," Trump said of undocumented Mexican immigrants while announcing his candidacy last June.
CASA says it's not just Trump's candidacy that is causing the surge in citizenship interest among immigrants.
"I think it's the environment that is anti-immigrant in general," said Pablo Blank with CASA.
"Usually the main reason is because they want to get a better job, because they want to bring family from other countries, but today the main reason -- what motivates the people to come in big numbers -- is that they want to vote in November."
Blank added that any immigrant hoping to vote this November needs to get the citizenship process started immediately to have a chance of registering to vote in time.