Activists say that newly naturalized U.S. citizens will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming midterm elections.
Newly naturalized U.S. citizens will be voting for the first time. They'll be headed to the ballot box with a great deal of pride and gratitude.
Betty Castellanos got emotional when she talked about how her mother died on the same day she was sworn in as new U.S. citizen. An now in just a few weeks, she will be voting for the first time in a U.S. election.
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"I am feeling very proud of myself and also I'm feeling happy to be there that day I'm feeling excited because I want to vote to make a change in my community," Castellanos said.
Castellanos is not alone. She and other new citizens stood in the offices of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights as it revealed a new study showing a big increase in the number of naturalized citizens in California since 2016.
More than 700,000 individuals were sworn from 2016 to 2020. About 48% from countries in Asia, 41% from the America's, 53% under the age of 45, and 56% were women.
"Now we're inspiring and encouraging people to come out and vote," said Angelica Salas, the CHIRLA executive director.
Salas believes the near doubling of the number of naturalized citizens from the previous four years can be linked to what she calls "anti-immigrant polices" and a rise in hate attacks.
"I think people became very concerned about what is happening in this country," Salas said. "They were very concerned about many of the hate crimes that they were seeing against their community whether Latino, Asian, or African immigrant."
Salas points out that naturalized citizens like Castellanos have an extremely high rate of voting and will be a force in the midterm elections.
LA County Registrar Dean Logan added they'll be able to registrar right up to election day.
"Any eligible voter can go into any of our centers during the voting period including on election day and register and cast a ballot as well," Logan said.
Vote by mail ballots are scheduled to go out Thursday.