“We can reach the mountaintop, we can break another barrier that will say to every American and everyone around the world that this is a place that judges you on the content of your character, not the color of your skin,” he said.
He said electing Mr. Obama would prove the country is living up to its Founding Fathers’ vision, though he confused the founding documents, placing the “all men are created equal” line in the Declaration of Independence as being “in the same Constitution, [that] said that a black man was three-fifths of a human being.”
Mr. McCain, meanwhile, has gathered some of the key advertising and outreach players who helped President Bush win 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, and Mr. McCain’s Spanish-language ad strategy has been a dominant theme of his campaign.
Mr. McCain was among the first Republicans to identify Hispanics as a critical voting bloc, delivering speeches decades ago about the importance of courting those voters.
Ms. Martinez De Castro said NCLR’s goal for increasing Hispanic participation is not partisan and not about just one election. She said the organization is trying to get Hispanics invested in the political process, and at that point it will be up to the political parties to talk about the issues important to them.
“Parties need to do their jobs. If there are voters out there, parties need to figure out how they’re going to connect,” she said. “We are trying to make sure our folks are on the rolls so they get reached out to.”
She said the dramatic increase in citizenship applications over the past year is evidence that today’s immigrants, like previous waves, have the same goal of full participation in American society.
Saturday’s citizenship drive is just one piece of a grand strategy. Other efforts include joint pushes by the NALEO Educational Fund, Univision and other organizations to push eligible Hispanics to apply for citizenship. Univision ran a program about completing the application process, Spanish-language newspapers included application materials in their editions and NALEO ran a call-in hot line to answer questions.
The organizers claim more than 1 million citizenship applications have been filed as a result of their efforts.
Saturday’s workshop included volunteers who pre-screened applicants and made sure they had the correct documents, and lawyers who could advise them of potential problems.
The volunteers signed confidentiality statements so applicants could be more forthcoming in revealing their status and potential legal disqualifications such as criminal records.
Applicants left with a completed application that they could send to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
NCLR staffers said 35 percent to 40 percent typically turn out to be eligible and follow through on filing their applications.
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
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