Nearly 1,000 people in the Central Valley are now officially new U.S. citizens. And for many, they say the recent Presidential election played a big role.
975 people from 57 countries took the oath of citizenship at the Fresno Convention Center Tuesday, the final step in their process of moving from immigrant to citizen.
Among them was 35-year old Norma Minjares, who was brought to the country by his parents as an infant.
She, like many in the crowd, say last fall’s election pushed her to finally seek citizenship.
“Because of the new president, to be honest. Because I don’t want to be sent back where I was born because I have children here.” Minjares says.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla spoke to the new citizens and their families.
He said he agrees that the attention focused on the presidential election, and the president’s heated rhetoric on immigration, have shaped the will of many immigrants.
“People are not just paying attention to politics like we haven’t in a long, long time. People are realizing that it’s not just Election Day and you get out and vote. But that elections have results. And elections have consequences,” Padilla says.
Padilla also pointed out that while Presidential elections do draw the most attention, the new citizens now also have a voice in local matters like city councils, the state legislature, and school boards that often have a more direct impact on their lives.
The Secretary also has strong words in opposition to a panel established last week by President Donald Trump tasked with investigating his own allegations of massive voter fraud in the 2016 election.
He says there is no evidence of millions of illegal votes being cast and thinks the commission is more about making it harder for people to register and vote.
“It is rigged from the very beginning. Last year’s election wasn’t rigged, this commission is rigged. They have all been public from the President to the Vice President, they all believe there is massive voter fraud going on across the country despite the evidence to the contrary. It seems like they have their conclusions now they need an investigation to support their conclusion. It simply doesn’t exist,” Padilla says.
Padilla did say voter fraud does happen but it is rare, and not a massive national scheme.
To that point, he encouraged anyone with knowledge or suspicion of fraudulent voting to report it to county or state election officials.