Typically around presidential elections, Sabine Weyergraf sees a spike in naturalization applications, but it slows down after the election.
But for the Sarasota immigration attorney, that has not been the case since President Donald Trump, who has promised restrictions on legal and illegal immigration, was elected last November.
“It has not slowed down, and I am getting more inquiries,” said Weyergraf of Weyergraf Immigration, PA. “They are scared that they will have issues entering the country and will not be able to continue regular life here. People are just so scared.”
With Trump’s stance on immigration, there has been an increase in naturalization applications to become a U.S. citizen, and an increase in parents seeking passports for children born in the U.S. And all nationalities are inquiring, Weyergraf said.
“People are scared definitely, especially after the January executive order,” she said.
Weyergraf is referring to Trump’s executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” which barred certain people from the entering the country. Federal courts struck down the original order, but Trump signed a revised order this week.
In Manatee County, the number of passport applications has continued to increase in January and February, according to Lori Tolksdorf, director of courts.
“We have seen an uptick in January and February of our passport applications,” she said.
In January, the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court office received 548 applications; the preliminary number for February is 752 applications.
In fiscal 2016, the office received an average of 454 applications a month. In the first four months of fiscal 2017, they received an average of 528 applications a month, according to Tolksdorf.
While the numbers have increased since Trump was sworn in as president, Tolksdorf said she didn’t know if it was the cause because applicants don’t provide a specific reason.
There is also no breakdown of whether the applicants were adults or children.
“No one is verbally discussing their business or plans at the counter,” she said. “I will say that there is a higher volume of applicants being sworn in by our bilingual staff members. We are just seeing this uptick.”
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s office has seen a slight increase in requests from constituents about passports, but not any higher than in previous years, according to Gretchen Andersen, Buchanan’s spokeswoman.
“We’ve seen a slight increase, which is common for our office this time of year since it’s right before people travel for spring break and summer vacation,” she said.
Officials from other areas have been called in to help with the passport applications, Tolksdorf said.
“If the demand were to continue over a long period of time, we would have to have additional staff,” she said.
Manatee County passport applications
- Fiscal 2015: average of 415 applications a month
- Fiscal 2016: average of 454 applications a month
- October 2016: 313 applications
- November 2016: 342 applications
- December 2016: 380 applications
- January 2017: 548 applications
- February 2017: 752 applications