LatinaLista — Last week, Nevada’s largest Spanish-language newspaper El Mundo announced they were endorsing Hillary Clinton for President.
Frontpage of Nevada’s El Mundo newspaper.
Mainstream media reporting on the endorsement were sure to include:
El Mundo is the oldest and most politically engaged Spanish paper in Nevada, where Hispanics make up nearly 25 percent of the population but a far smaller portion of the electorate. The group will be closely watched in Nevada Democrats’ Jan. 19 presidential caucus.
Just as Iowa and New Hampshire have been the testing grounds for electorate turnouts among young people and women, Nevada is the testing ground to see if the country’s Latinos can finally start fulfilling our own turnout prophecy.
There’s good reason to think that our time has arrived.
First, more and more Latinas involved in their local communities are telling Latina Lista that they are meeting women who never exercised their right to vote because they never had a candidate that excited them.
Now, they do.
Whether it’s Obama or Clinton or McCain, many first-time Latina voters feel compelled to vote like never before.
Secondly, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports they have received 1,029,951 citizenship applications from January to October, 2007—nearly double the number of citizenship applications received in 2006.
The Ya es Hora: Â¡Ciudadania! (Citizenship, It’s Time!) Campaign that is taking credit for this phenomenal turnout vows to keep the heat on the USCIS to keep up with this backlog and move these applications along in time to qualify most of these new citizens to vote in November.
Following the campaign’s tremendous success, the Ya es Hora: !Ciudadania! partners are working with USCIS and members of Congress to reduce the citizenship application backlog. Currently, processing delays at USCIS could prevent 2007 applicants from naturalizing in time to vote in 2008 elections.
“Our campaign is committed to building the support we need to clear this backlog,” said National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Senior Vice President Cecilia Munoz. “These applicants have played by all the rules—waited patiently in line, paid their taxes, and contributed to their communities. We can all agree that they should not face yet another lengthy barrier to becoming full, active citizens. They deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard on Election Day.”
Unfortunately, the USCIS isn’t too optimistic they will have all the applications processed in time even with some new measures they’re implementing.
USCIS has received a significant increase in the number of applications filed. In July and August, nearly 2.5 million applications and petitions of all types were received. This compares to 1.2 million applications and petitions received in the same time period last year. This fiscal year, we received 1.4 million applications for naturalization; nearly double the volume we received the year before. The agency is working to improve processes and focus increased resources, including hiring approximately 1,500 new employees, to address this workload.
As a result, average processing times for certain application types may become longer. In particular, naturalization applications filed after June 1, 2007 may take approximately 16 – 18 months to process.
Hopefully, it doesn’t take that long.
If the USCIS really feels they won’t get it done, even with the 1500 extra hands, what about taking some of that money from constructing the border fence and applying it to hiring more temporary workers to process these applications?
It would only be fair.
For the first time, there is a real possibility that the Latino electorate can reach its full potential and play a significant role in these elections — but only if the government acts in good faith in doing their job.
No convenient excuses of lost paperwork, not enough processors, ineligible applications, etc. — common excuses heard in the past to disenfranchise certain groups from voting.
This election is different. It truly has the earmarks of a 21st Century election.
The last thing it needs is 20th Century stall tactics.