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Meet the 33,000 potential new citizens who may swing the election to Hillary Clinton

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Delcy Vasquez, a native of the Dominican Republic and resident of Florida, used the help on offer from Mexico to become a U.S. citizen. She’s looking forward to casting a ballot against Donald Trump.

“I’ve become very interested in voting,” said the 63-year-old hairdresser, who lives in the Orlando area. “We can’t have a president who ridicules Latinos.”

Vasquez took advantage of a campaign hosted by Mexican consulates in which community groups offer free legal advice to help naturalize U.S. immigrants. She’s one of 33,000 people who applied in Florida alone, a state that handed George W. Bush the presidency in 2000 by a margin of 537 votes and that Trump needs to win to defeat Hillary Clinton.

“The implications potentially are titanic,” said Fernand Amandi, a principal at Miami-based opinion-research firm Bendixen & Amandi who worked for Clinton’s campaign in 2008 but isn’t working for a candidate this year. Florida’s Latinos are “arguably the most important set of voters in the United States.”

In just the first quarter, more than 252,000 U.S. residents applied to become naturalized citizens, a 28 percent increase from the same period a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Besides the 41 percent increase in Florida, gains were registered in swing states: about 6,000 applications in Pennsylvania, 3,000 in Nevada, 4,000 in North Carolina and 3,000 in Colorado. There are 8.8 million permanent residents living in the U.S. eligible for citizenship, of whom 2.7 million are from Mexico, according to government estimates. – READ MORE

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