APOPKA, Fla. — A U.S. citizenship class for immigrants is seeing a rise in student attendance because of the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

  • Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka offers citizenship classes
  • Center says it's seen a rise in attendees ahead of 2020 election
  • 40-year US resident Jose Garcon hopes to vote for 1st time next year

Jose Garcon is looking forward to the first time he's able to vote.

For the past year, he's spent his Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings at the Pathways to Citizenship class, where he studies U.S. government, history, and the responsibilities of an American citizen — all in the hopes of becoming one.

He's lived in Florida for the past 40 years, coming from Colombia on a tourist visa.

Finally, this year, he's been motivated to gain his citizenship.

“The immigration laws are changing a lot, especially for residents,” Garcon said in Spanish. “The most important thing is to gain my citizenship, because I don’t want to return to my country.”

“Everybody is nervous about that, truly,” said John Parrell, one of the instructors of the citizenship class and an immigration assistant. “The truth is we really don’t know what’s going to happen. We just can’t tell.”

Garcon is scheduled to take his citizenship test just three days after his birthday next month.

“That moment is getting closer, and I believe it will be the happiest moment in my life,” Garcon said. “Finally, my dream will come true, after so many years.”

The center plans to help 250 immigrants gain their citizenship in the next two years. 

The Hope CommUnity Center is also starting a new class next month for teens who came to the U.S. by crossing the border, helping them learn American culture as well as become citizens.

It is still registering students, so anyone who wants to attend should go to the Hope CommUnity Center's website or call the center at 407-880-4673.