Here's an interesting story from the WSJ (sub. req., h/t TPM):
"Backed by the largest Spanish-language broadcast network in the U.S., a massive campaign by Latino media and grass-roots groups to spur millions of eligible Hispanic residents to become U.S. citizens is showing results that could influence the agenda and outcome of the 2008 election.
More than eight million green-card holders -- that is, legal permanent residents -- are eligible to become U.S. citizens, and the majority are immigrants of Latin American origin, according to U.S. government data. Now, Univision Communications Inc. is using its considerable clout with the Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. to turn this latent voting bloc into an active and potentially potent force. (...)
The citizenship drive began in January, when Univision's largest station -- Los Angeles's KMEX 34 -- began bombarding Southern California airwaves with a campaign designed to steer eligible viewers to become U.S. citizens.
The impact was immediate: In Los Angeles and surrounding counties, the number of citizenship applications filed to the U.S. government more than doubled for the three months ended March 2007 compared with the same period last year. It typically takes six or seven months for green-card holders to complete the citizenship process.
Now, the campaign is spreading quickly to big cities including Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Phoenix. After the yearlong campaign is complete, a second phase is slated for 2008 that will focus on getting the new citizens to register to vote.
"I have never seen anything like it in my career. It's big," said Jane Arellano, a 39-year veteran of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who is district director in L.A. According to a person close to the situation, the initiative was a factor in the agency's decision to extend the terms of 40 immigration adjudicators in the district whose contracts were due to end in January.
Both major U.S. political parties are acutely aware of the impact that a stinging immigration debate in Congress, set to begin soon, could have on new Hispanic voters. Historically, Latinos have had a lower voter-participation rate than others -- in 2004, 47% of those eligible voted, compared with 67% of whites and 60% of blacks, according to Pew Hispanic Center tabulations. However, Latino immigrants who become citizens report higher rates of political participation than native-born Latinos, according to Pew.
If the citizenship campaign culminates in two million to three million new Hispanic voters, "that could turn the tide in several states," including Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, says Sergio Bendixen, a pollster who specializes in ethnic markets. In 2004, Republicans won by a small margin in those states."
Univision is not just advertising about citizenship, it's holding citizenship fairs:
"Univision's clout was on display at the citizenship drive in the Hispanic section of downtown L.A. Virtually every person questioned about their decision said they were answering a call from Univision TV or radio.
"Univision is waking us up," said Clementina Bonilla, 60, standing in a line that snaked around the block at La Placita Square. "We kept saying 'mañana, mañana' about our citizenship. It's time for Latinos to have a voice."
For $25, green-card holders could get help filling out the form from an army of 50 volunteers, get their pictures taken and leave with an envelope containing all the paperwork ready to be mailed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The previous week, a similar scene unfolded in the city of Santa Ana in Orange County, Calif., after Univision publicized it."
Good for Univision. People who live in this country and are eligible for citizenship should get it, so that they can have a say in what happens to the country. They seem to want one:
"For example, many at the citizenship fair said they had heard the government intends to soon raise the current $400 fee for becoming a naturalized citizen; a proposed increase is indeed in the pipeline. Others said they were spurred by the heated debate over how to deal with 12 million illegal immigrants, most of them Hispanic.
"We're not illegal, but we have family members who are," said Marina Gonzalez, who has been a legal permanent resident for 20 years. Once she gets her citizenship, Mrs. Gonzalez said, she plans to vote: "We want to have a say in these matters."
Even legal residents feel vulnerable these days. "You never know what law could change and make it harder for us to stay here," said Mayolo Lucas, a 47-year-old Mexican vegetable seller and a green-card holder for 15 years, who had been waiting four hours for help with his application."