Las Vegas Sun

August 19, 2017

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Citizenship applications surge in Nevada after spring of drives

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L.E. Baskow

Organizers troubleshoot problems during a citizenship drive workshop at the Painters Union on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Organizers have set a goal of helping 2,500 legal resident immigrants apply for citizenship this year.

Citizenship applications in Nevada were up 52 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to data recently released by the federal government.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that 6,303 permanent residents in Nevada applied to become citizens between January and June, compared with 4,147 in the same period last year. Local immigration advocacy groups put on four citizenship fairs throughout the spring to help legal residents complete their applications in time to become citizens and register to vote before the November election.

The Culinary Union, Nevada’s largest and most politically powerful union, collaborated with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and the National Partnership for New Americans to host the citizenship fairs between January and June, helping more than 2,000 permanent residents in the Las Vegas Valley apply for citizenship.

Some of the Culinary Union’s members took a leave of absence to assist with the fairs and help people fill out applications in one-on-one appointments.

“The work we’re doing to empower immigrants in Nevada will have a tremendous impact on the future of this country,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the union’s secretary-treasurer, in a statement. “Thousands of immigrants are gearing up to vote against racism and hate and will elect candidates who will fight hard for workers and their families.”

There are a number of reasons someone might apply for citizenship. However, at a citizenship drive in April, many applicants pointed to the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency as the reason they finally decided to apply for citizenship even though they had been eligible to apply for years.

“I have lived here for nine years,” Cuban immigrant Roberto Diaz told the Sun in April. “But now is the moment. So many candidates are talking racist about Latin people.”

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