In Washington state, the number of legal immigrants seeking help applying for citizenship is up significantly, said Sarah Sumadi of the immigrant-rights organization OneAmerica. The group partners with organizations around the state to hold free one-day workshops to help applicants with the legal requirements and extensive paperwork required to become citizens. It typically takes about five months for the federal government to approve new applications.
An estimated 180,000 legal permanent residents in the state are eligible to apply, she said.
The April 2014 citizenship workshop in Yakima drew 87 participants. Last year it attracted 221. This year, Sumadi said, she expects an even larger turnout. Washington is one of the few states, she said, that provides funding to help legal immigrants become citizens.
Karol Brown, a Bellevue immigration attorney who has provided free legal services at more than a dozen OneAmerica workshops over the past decade, said new applicants tell her they are applying for citizenship so they can counter the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the presidential campaign.
“It’s been the best immigrant voter-registration drive I’ve ever seen. Nothing has motivated people like Donald Trump,” Brown said.