New citizens expected to play big role in emerging Latino vote

More than a million recently naturalized citizens are projected to play a pivotal role during the presidential election, adding to a young and emerging Latino voter demographic in Colorado and throughout the country, according to analysts.

On Wednesday the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization, hosted the first in a series of conference calls to discuss the role Latinos and immigrants will play in the election.

Cecilia Muñoz, vice president of the organization’s research office, said that the most recent data obtained from the federal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency showed that there were 900,000 naturalization applications pending in April 2008 alone.

Because of the data, coupled with aggressive voter registration drives in contested states like Colorado, Muñoz said her organization is expecting to see around 1 million new citizens who will be registered to vote and participating in the political process during the 2008 election.

According to 2007 data compiled by the federal citizenship office, Colorado is the third leading state for the number of new citizens by population, with a total of 8,000 individuals, the vast majority under 44 years of age. Approximately 3,000 of those individuals in 2007 came from Spanish-speaking countries.

The federal data also shows that in 2007 the largest number of new citizens — more than 122,000 out of 660,000 — were from Mexico.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at

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