Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Some people are ready to step up and be counted against hate

This weekend at a social gathering, a young woman of South Asian origin who has been in this country for most of her adult life and is married to a U.S. citizen told us she was finally taking the plunge. She's begun the process to become a U.S. citizen. Why? So she can vote against Donald Trump.

She's not the only one. Four years ago when I was working for a ballot measure to end the death penalty, I had the opportunity to see how effectively Catholic organizations were bringing eligible voters into the political system. We received page after page of signed initiative petitions filled with Spanish surnames from churches in California's Central Valley. Obviously these parishes had helped these people get through the paper work.

Catholic organizations are working doubly hard this year, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Against a backdrop of polarizing political rhetoric and stalled federal immigration legislation, Catholic parishes from Los Angeles to San Diego -- the most immigrant-rich part of the most immigrant-populated American state -- are heeding Pope Francis' call to treat migrants with "charity and cooperation" and make their lives "more humane."

"People are likely to trust their local church, so we want to capitalize on that trust to do something to everyone's benefit," said Msgr. Richard Martini, pastor at St. Joseph Church in Carpinteria. The 2,000-family parish, like many in Southern California, will host a training in March to recruit churchgoers to reach out via friends and family to immigrants who hold green cards.

"We're trying to put people in a position where they can have a voice and count. One of the advantages of gaining citizenship is that you are able to vote," said Martini, who added that the effort includes voter registration. ...

... California isn't the only place where the church's role in promoting naturalization is ramping up. Dioceses from Galveston-Houston to Miami have teamed with legal groups in recent years for citizenship drives. In Texas, Houston-area Catholics regularly host citizenship workshops through Catholic Charities, similar to courses Catholic Charities offers in dioceses across the country.

In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area -- home to 240,000 permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship -- the archdiocese teamed with local nonprofits in February to launch Citizen 1-2-3, an outreach program that includes online and text-message guides, a phone hotline, and lawyers who are available to talk applicants through the naturalization process. ...

It is easy to imagine the demagogic Trump asking (as Stalin was said to), "how many divisions does the pope have?" Pope Francis might turn out to mobilize more voices than he expected.

Yesterday the New York Times described a Colorado citizenship drive where people knew exactly why they wanted to vote.

At the Denver workshop, many aspiring voters agreed on why they are naturalizing this year.

“Donald Trump never! Never!” said Minerva Guerrero Salazar, 40, who has been working for a uniform rental company since moving here from Mexico in 2002. “He has no conscience when he speaks of Latinos. And he is so rude. I don’t know what kind of education his mother gave him.”

For practical purposes, new citizens need to get their papers in by May 1 to be assured they make it through processing in time for the November election. A piece of good news is that the government now takes credit card payments for the $680 fee.


Hattie said...

Good to hear. Trump is really getting to me. I even dreamed about him last night. Ugh.

Rain Trueax said...

I hope the trend continues no matter who the Republican candidate is. So far, the Dems have been turning out in lower numbers in the primary.

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