Officials at the White House yesterday announced the commencement of a new campaign to encourage legal US immigrants to gain full citizenship, potentially adding millions of new voters to the electoral roll just in time for the 2016 presidential election. The United States currently has 8.8 million legal residents who are eligible for US citizenship.
The White House says it is trying to make the last steps to achieving citizenship easier to take. The federal agency responsible for naturalization, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, will offer practice tests via cell phones so that immigrants can prepare for the essential civics exam, with preparatory workshops to be held in rural areas. Although the fee remains an expensive $680, applicants will now be able to pay by credit card.
Regional groups have teamed up with the White House to organize over 70 citizenship workshops and around 200 naturalization ceremonies in the next week alone. Local initiatives are also being planned to make immigrants feel a greater part of the community, and a review of regulations in the Justice Department is underway to try to make it easier for those who want to offer basic legal assistance on a voluntary basis to immigrants who want to gain naturalization.
Thursday is Citizenship Day, which White House officials claim is the reason for the start of the campaign this week; however, there is little doubt the administration is aware that federal figures reveal that around 60% of eligible immigrants are Latino, which is a demographic that overwhelmingly voted for President Obama in the last election.