Donald Trump's march to the Republican presidential nomination is triggering another march — that of immigrants applying for United States citizenship.
Nationwide, applications for citizenship rose in January through March by 34 percent over the prior quarter, and Massachusetts reported a 30 percent increase within the same period. According to The Boston Globe, immigrants and organizations that assist immigrants attribute this surge to a "Trump effect," as immigrants are pursuing citizenship so they can vote against the presumptive Republican nominee and/or to avoid being deported should he be elected president.
This is certainly no surprise, as Mr. Trump has slandered Latinos and threatened to ban Muslims from entering the country. Genuine solutions for illegal immigration have been blocked by immigrant-bashing congressional Republicans, and Mr. Trump has stoked irrational fears by falsely claiming that immigrants are "pouring over" our southern border. That flow has slowed dramatically since President Obama succeeded President George W. Bush.
Bringing immigrants out of the shadows as new citizens has tangible benefits for America, most notably by assuring that they will pay taxes. The immigrants in turn receive the protections guaranteed under U.S. law and their children will be guaranteed a quality education.
Many immigrants find the requirements for citizenship — such as passage of a test on their English skills and knowledge of U.S. government and history — to be daunting and have been reluctant to make the effort. However, there are many organizations available to help, such as the Berkshire Immigrant Center located at 88 South Street in Pittsfield.
Immigration advocates believe that this surge of immigrants seeking citizenship may result in as many as 1 million new registered voters this November. Plainly that was not Mr. Trump's intent, but in his perverse way he is helping strengthen our democracy.