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Local immigrants rushing to become citizens

Local experts weigh in on why more local immigrants trying to expedite the citizenship process. (KTUL)

This year's presidential election keeps putting issues like illegal immigration on center stage, especially with Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Trump's statements and plans on immigration reform has local immigrants rushing for citizenship.

"I think the reason they come and ask me is because of fear," said Lorena Rivas, immigration attorney.

Rivas says for the past four months she's had an influx of people asking about the future of our country's immigration policy.

"I have had more questions about this from the general public or from potential clients who ask me what can I do to make sure I am protected if Donald Trump is elected president and he wants to get rid of any foreigner," Rivas said.

While some seek protection, others are rushing for citizenship in hopes of being heard.

"One thing we have seen that has been really interesting here is that people with green cards wanting to expedite the citizenship process so they can go and participate in this presidential election," said Lindsay Jordan, director of Communications for YWCA.

Jordan said they've seen a significant increase in the number of legal residents and undocumented immigrants inquiring and applying for their program called Project Citizenship.

"I think that fear is very real and we are definitely here to mitigate that and there are a couple of things people can do to prepare so when they are ready to start down the path of getting their green card they will have things in place," Jordan said.

Jordan recommends maintaining your passport, translating your documents, complying with the law and paying taxes.

"Even if you don't legally have an employee identification number linked to a social security number you can still pay taxes through a tax identification number and that goes a long way with Uncle Sam when it's time to sit down and do your paperwork," Jordan said.

Attorney Rivas suggests becoming familiarized with immigration laws and knowing your rights.

The YWCA has a program for immigrants and refugees that provides various services for participants. For more information, visit ywcatulsa.org.

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