Society

Trump's Rhetoric Drives Immigrants To Become Citizens

| by Ray Brown

The possibility of a Donald Trump presidency is reportedly causing many immigrants to apply for citizenship so they can vote against him.

"Trump is dividing us as a country," Edgar Ospina, a Colombian immigrant, told the Associated Press on April 30.

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"He's so negative about immigrants. We've got to speak up."

Ospina, who came to the U.S. in 1990 and now owns a flooring and kitchen remodeling company, said he is doing what he can to expedite the paperwork process to become a U.S. citizen.

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Nationwide, naturalization applications are up 14 percent in the last six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, according to the government numbers crunched by the AP. And applications could approach one million in 2016, which is roughly 200,000 more than the average in recent years, the New York Times reports.

Trump, the GOP's front-runner, has won support among many Americans for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, which began the day he announced his candidacy.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said in June 2015, according to the Times. "They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists and some, I assume, are good people."

The words stirred controversy, but Trump didn't take it as a signal to restrain his rhetoric. Rather, he upped the ante, vowing to mass-deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a giant wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

As a result, Trump's popularity has surged among conservative voters. And seeing that a potential president could win an election largely based on an anti-immigrant stance has reportedly frightened many immigrants.

"There is fear of a Trump presidency," Maria Ponce of iAmerica Action, a Washington-based immigrant rights group, told the  AP.

Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said that although there has been an increase in naturalization applications, the reaction to Trump is something that has happened before.

"We've seen it in the past and we are seeing it again many times over this year," he said. "When immigrant communities feel they are under attack they react with a large number of eligible immigrants becoming citizens and a large number of eligible citizens becoming voters."

Sources: Associated Press, New York Times (2) / Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

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