September 16, 2016


Newly Released Data Shows 48% Spike in Citizenship Applications in New Mexico; Wave of First-time Voters Prepare for November Election


SANTA FE, NM--On Saturday, September 17th, Somos Un Pueblo Unido will celebrate Citizenship Day, part of a nationwide campaign to highlight the stories of immigrants who have recently become U.S. Citizens and plan to vote for the first time in the November election. Newly released data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) show a 48% increase in citizenship applications in New Mexico over the same quarter last year, corresponding to a number of efforts over the past months to help eligible immigrants become U.S. Citizens. Nationally, the number of citizenship applications are up by 32%.


"I decided to become a U.S. citizen so I can have the right to vote," said Berta Andrade, a longtime resident of Hobbs and member of Somos Lea County who became a U.S. citizen in July. "The rights of dairy workers, immigrant rights and immigration reform are very important issues for me and my family. That's why after living in Hobbs for over 20 years I decided to attend a citizenship forum last December and start the process."


Andrade is also a voter registration agent and part of Somos' Viva el Voto campaign, a nonpartisan effort to register and turn out voters in the counties of McKinley, Lea, Roosevelt, Chaves and Curry.


"Now that I can vote, I want to make sure that other people can do the same, that's why I became a voter registration agent," said Andrade. "And the very first people I registered to vote was my two sons and my two granddaughters, who are U.S. citizens but were not registered to vote. We are all going to go vote together and make our voices heard for our community."


Veronica Villegas, another resident of Hobbs and Somos member who became a U.S. citizen in April, also plans to vote for the first time.


"I come from a dairy worker immigrant family," said Villegas. "I felt it was important for me to finally become a U.S. Citizen so that the struggles we experience and the issues that are important to us are being talked about and given attention to."


According to data released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) earlier this week, during Quarter 3 of this year (April 1st to June 30th) a total of 673 citizenship applications were submitted to USCIS as opposed to a total of 456 applications from the same quarter in 2015.




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