WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- Applications for U.S. citizenship jumped 18 percent from January to April, apparently spurred by anxiety among immigrants about the political climate.
The number of immigrants applying to sponsor relatives was also up 18 percent, The Washington Post reported.
"We saw a dramatically higher upswing than we have ever seen before," said Chris Bentley, a spokesman with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Visits to the agency's Web site and downloading of applications for citizenship and green cards also rose.
While the political debate centers on those who have entered or remained in the country illegally, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill. -- who chairs the immigration task force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- said legal immigrants are worried that Congress may change the rules.
"Immigration policy is complicated enough," he said. "If you're a recent immigrant, legally here, the debate here is scary."