Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Youra Demshin has lived in this county 22 years, but for the first time this November, he will actually get a choice in who becomes president.
The native Russian was one of 25 people who became U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony inside the Orlando Public Library on Tuesday. Demshin and several other participants say one of the best things about becoming a citizen is the right to vote, especially in the contentious elections of 2016. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported a 14.5 percent increase in citizenship applications from June to December 2015, compared with the same six months in 2014, according to CNN
. Some grassroots groups have attributed the jump to permanent Latino residents who are turned off
by presidential candidate Donald Trump's comments and want to have a say on Nov. 8.
"My dream when I came from Vietnam was to become a citizen," says Tu Tran after the ceremony. "Now I can vote; I can contribute. I can have a voice in this country and choose whoever I want."
Estrella Perez, who left Cuba 15 years ago, says she wanted to become a citizen the day she arrived in the U.S., but she had to wait until she was old enough to take the test in Spanish. Perez says that while she doesn't see a presidential candidate who understands the Latino community, she plans to vote for Hillary Clinton.
"Many Latinos cannot vote," she says in Spanish. "But if I participate, I can vote and help us elect a representative that can do something for us."