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Immigration Rally Planned in Arlington Next Week

Nearly a thousand people march through Arlington to support immigration reform (file photo)Immigrants are “under attack” during this presidential election year. That’s according to the organizers of a rally and citizenship clinic planned in Arlington next week.

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of the immigrant advocacy and services organization CASA, says anti-immigrant rhetoric is prompting anxiety in the immigrant community and an increase in naturalization applications. His group is encouraging eligible Virginia residents to follow that trend and naturalize in time to vote this November.

CASA and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) are joining forces next Wednesday, May 18, for an event that will be part rally, part clinic “where CASA staff will advise potential citizenship seekers on the viability of their application.” The event will take place at Patrick Henry Elementary School (701 S. Highland Street) at 7:30 p.m.

“There is something unique and significant going on in immigrant communities,” Gutiérrez said in a media advisory about the event (below). “Wherever I travel in the U.S. these days, I see large numbers of eligible immigrants coming forward to apply for naturalization. When there is anxiety about what appears to be rising xenophobia, that always motivates people who can seek citizenship to do so and motivates citizens to become voters.”

The full advisory, after the jump.

CASA and Congressman Luis Gutiérrez are teaming up to urge eligible Virginians to become citizens at a clinic and rally at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Patrick Henry Elementary School, 701 S. Highland St., Arlington, VA 22204.

“At a time when immigrants are under attack, it is even more important to have those people who are eligible to become part of the political process,” said CASA’s Executive Director Gustavo Torres. “And to have Congressman Gutiérrez here solidifies our efforts.”

Rep. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., has been a tireless advocate on behalf of immigrants. In addition to his work in the Congress, he joined the “Stand Up to Hate” tour, which aims to sign up one million new citizens before the end of the year. Congressman Gutiérrez has participated in more than a dozen workshops throughout the country including Colorado, New York, Nevada and Illinois.

“There is something unique and significant going on in immigrant communities,” Rep. Gutiérrez said.  “Wherever I travel in the U.S. these days, I see large numbers of eligible immigrants coming forward to apply for naturalization. When there is anxiety about what appears to be rising xenophobia, that always motivates people who can seek citizenship to do so and motivates citizens to become voters.”

Over all, naturalization applications increased by 11 percent in the 2015 fiscal year over the year before, and jumped 14 percent during the six months ending in January, according to a March New York Times article.

Experts say this sharp increase is due to anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from some presidential candidates.

The event will also include a citizenship clinic where CASA staff will advise potential citizenship seekers on the viability of their application.

“Many people are eligible to become citizens for years before taking that final step,” said Pablo Blank, CASA’s citizenship program manager. “We are here to help them through the process.”

File photo

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