1,000 New Citizens Registered to Vote at TD Garden

Over 100 volunteers help at year's largest naturalization ceremony

Wednesday, August 31, 2011. BOSTON — Bearing clipboards, pens and a simple registration form, over a hundred volunteers met thousands of newly sworn citizens today at TD Gardens today and offered them the chance to register to vote. The volunteers were organized by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), which worked with staff, member organizations, and allies such as MassVOTE to register the new citizens at the largest naturalization ceremony held in Massachusetts this year. Coordinators of the drive counted over 1,000 completed registration forms, with 2,500 more distributed to the happy crowd of new citizens.

"This effort is one of the most important ways to involve new citizens in the civic life of our nation," said Frank Ramirez, Executive Director of the East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC), one of the local organizations that helped with registration. "Perhaps the greatest right and duty of citizenship is to chose those one's leaders. We are proud to offer new citizens the chance to assume this right and responsibility."

The naturalization event is one of dozens across the state where MIRA and its allies are seeking to empower new citizens in the democratic process. With nearly 1 million foreign-born residents, Massachusetts has the seventh largest immigrant population in the nation. Almost half that population is already naturalized, an increase of over 35% in the past decade. Even so, voter registration nationwide among the naturalized population is only 60%, whereas 72% of native-born citizens are registered. Through a concerted effort, MIRA and its allies are working to close that gap so that naturalized citizens can speak with a full voice in the coming 2012 national elections and beyond.

Groups participating in today's voter registration work include NonprofitVOTE, ¿Oiste?, EBECC, Brazilian Immigrant Center, SEIU615, International Institute of New England, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, The Citizenship Collaborative, Brazilian Women's Group, and many individual members and supporters from across the state.