ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Election Day is just four days away and as voters head to the polls on Tuesday a number of people will be casting a ballot for the first time.
Nationally and here in New Mexico, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has seen an influx in the number of people eligible to become citizens through the naturalization process.
It’s a trend local immigration attorney John Russo has seen as well.
In the last year, 940,000 people applied for citizenship in the U.S., that’s a 23 percent surge from the year before. New Mexico is in line with that national trend.
According to USCIS, from April to June this year, 673 people applied for citizenship in New Mexico which is a 25 percent increase from last year.
Attorney Russo says he believes people were motivated to go through the naturalization process because of the comments presidential candidate Donald Trump said about Mexican immigrants at the start of his campaign. He says while applications for citizenship during an election year usually go up, this year has been especially important for many immigrants.
Russo also says a lot of immigrants are also worried that immigration and deportation laws could be changing with a new president.
According to the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, naturalized citizens account for about six percent of the state’s registered voters.