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July 16, 2006

New Citizens- Bad News for GOP

The NYTimes highlights that immigrants are increasingly becoming citizens, with 604,280 taking the citizenship oath in 2005, or 12.5% more than the year before.  And a lot of it is being driven by a backlash against anti-immigrant rhetoric at the national level:

Philip E. Berns, a Stamford lawyer who focuses on immigration issues, said many of his clients who have been in the country legally for many years had begun seeking citizenship because of concerns over the debate in Congress about stricter immigration laws and fears about the war on terrorism.

"A lot of people are stepping forward to get citizenship who were not doing so before," he said. "They are really scared."

One thing to note is that while a lot of the new immigration is happening in expected places (see these Homeland Security numbers) -- California, New York and Florida -- there have been large numbers of new citizens, ie. new potential voters, in red states like Texas (38,553 new citizens) and Virginia (17,653) and many of these new citizens are in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington and Georgia.

And these are 2005 numbers.  This year record numbers of immigrants are applying to become immigrants:

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, naturalization applications in the first three months of the year increased 19 percent over the same period last year. And in March, visitors to the USCIS Web site downloaded a record 162,000 citizenship applications.
S0 in all the calculations for 2008, just remember that there will likely be anywhere between 2.5 and 3 million newly naturalized citizens, many of whom are primed to be mobilized against the hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric we see out there.  

Which is all the more reason why Dem leaders should pay attention to Colorado Luis's critique today and not run to short-term anti-immigrant rhetoric and thereby sacrifice long-term support from these emerging new citizens.

Posted by Nathan at July 16, 2006 02:29 PM