Thursday, January 31, 2008

Some new citizens ready for open border policies.

Immigration: If the majority of new citizens have this mindset, immigration policies on all fronts are in trouble over the next decade or so.

For the 25 Hispanic immigrants taking a citizenship class Tuesday evening in downtown Houston, voting is a fundamental right they hope to gain.

The students, attending the nonprofit Houston International University inside a shopping center, answered enthusiastically as their instructor quizzed them on American history and civics topics they must know to pass a citizenship test.

They are part of an unprecedented nationwide surge of 1.4 million legal immigrants who applied for U.S. citizenship in the 2007 fiscal year. But now many of those immigrants fear a bureaucratic backlog may prevent them from becoming citizens in time to vote in this year's presidential elections.

''Maybe if I pass the exam and become a citizen, I can vote," said Antonia Landeros, a 38-year-old Mexican immigrant who works for a Houston janitorial firm. ''But I don't know because I haven't received a date for my interview."

Landeros, who married a U.S. citizen after coming to Houston 15 years ago, longs to vote — to voice her support for a presidential candidate who appreciates immigrants. She and others in the class say the November election will be crucial in changing immigration policy.

.....Alma Monsivais, the instructor at Houston International University, said her students applied for citizenship for various reasons. Some want to sponsor relatives who are not here legally. Others want to thwart deportation. And many realize citizenship, and literacy, can lead to a better job.

''And they want to vote, so they can choose who is going to represent them," Monsivais said.

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