With this year being an election year, there has been an increase in the number of qualified permanent residents applying for citizenship. It`s an established precedent, with most election years spurring an increase in naturalization applications as permanent residents decide to become citizens in order to cast a ballot. In many cases, the media coverage during election year spurs permanent residents to become citizens so that they can cast a vote. In many cases, they do so because they get excited about supporting a candidate or because they are disturbed by the views of a candidate and want to support their opponent. In some cases, newcomers were politically active in their home countries and want to take part in a US election.
Candidates and political parties even take advantage of the trend, encouraging permanent residents to apply for citizenship and even campaigning at citizenship ceremony locations to attract brand-new citizens to vote. Some activists set up booths near citizenship ceremonies this year, to register new voters minutes after they became citizens. Some activists set up multi-language displays to attract new voters to a specific party.
Although there is an increase in the number of people applying for citizenship, however, it does not appear as though this year the number will be historic. In 2008, over 1 million immigrants became citizens, just in time to vote in Barack Obama. In 1996, President Bill Clinton was accused by opponents of increasing citizenship numbers.
In 2011, there were 694,193 citizens naturalized and 619,913 in 2010. Some experts believe that the numbers for 2012 will be in a similar range. There are many reasons why more people are not becoming citizens – even in an election year. For one thing, there are fewer efforts to get residents to naturalize. As well, the number of backlogged naturalization applications is smaller and there are fewer immigrants coming to the US overall.
According to experts, new citizens are most likely to help President Obama in this year`s presidential race, as many new citizens steer clear of the GOP. Outside of a citizenship ceremony in California recently, activists were busy registering new voters. They registered only 3 Republicans, 95 Democrats and 54 undecided voters in one day. When questioned, some of the new voters stated that they felt that the Democrat party was more “pro-immigration.“ However, as many experts note, some of the undecided voters may eventually decide to vote Republican and some decide only later on how they will vote.