Liberal groups announced a drive Wednesday to register as many as 1 million legal immigrants in key battleground states to try to stop Donald Trump at the polls in November.
"There is something unique and significant happening in the immigrant community, and I think more broadly in the Latino community," Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois told reporters, The Washington Examiner reports
. "There is really a hunger for citizenship — and it's driven by the desire to participate in this year's presidential election, and particularly this presidential election."
The effort is headed by the National Partnership for New Americans, a Washington-based coalition of immigrant-rights groups along with the Service Employees International Union and other pro-Democratic organizations, the Examiner reports.
Their target is to increase the number of naturalization applications to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (CIS) from about 650,000 to 1 million.
The partnership helped 12,781 legal permanent residents apply for naturalization in March and April, executive director Joshua Hoyt said.
He added that the group has reached out to as many as 500,000 people.
When questioned about the disparity in the figures, Hoyt explained to reporters that "many immigrants" apply for naturalization on their own.
"We also then worked on workshops to make sure that the people who are closest to our respective organizations had hands-on assistance," he said. "It's not an easy process."
CIS is aiding the effort by waiving fees to lower-income immigrants — but the process takes five months to complete, which could make it too late for immigrants to vote in November, the Examiner reports.
"The events that these organizations are holding are legitimately nonpartisan events," Gutierrez said. "But there is something going on here and the way Donald Trump and other Republicans have been talking about immigrants and refugees — and Latinos and Asians and Muslims — is frankly scaring people into coming forward and becoming citizens."
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