From the AP: “Efforts by Congress and local governments to crack down on illegal immigration—and the protests that followed those efforts—have produced a surge of interest in learning how to become a U.S. citizen.

“‘I didn’t think it was important before, but now I think it’s very important to be a citizen,’ Leonida Santana said during a break in a Saturday morning class discussion about the separation of powers among Congress, the president and the courts.

“The Dallas immigration services office of Catholic Charities has been flooded with calls from people interested in citizenship, said Vanna Slaughter, division director. The office’s next course begins April 29 and ‘the people have swarmed to fill that one,’ Slaughter said.

“‘When we ask them, they say: “We want to vote. We want to participate,”‘ Slaughter said.

“Nemecio Cotoc, 32, who fled a civil war in Guatemala and eventually became a legal resident, said he will never forget that he was once undocumented.

“‘We can’t elect a Hispanic president, but if we can become citizens we can defeat those who have a mind-set against us,’ Cotoc said.”