Whenever I think I've become too cynical, I find it's a good tonic to read stories like this.
Minutes after being sworn in Wednesday morning as a U.S. citizen, Roger Negron had already registered to vote and was filling out a passport application.
As Negron stood near an exit, the voice of a League of Women Voters volunteer boomed as she collected voter registration cards from hundreds of new American citizens streaming out of the Berry Center arena in northwest Harris County.
''Voter registration! Turn in your voter registration! Congratulations," shouted volunteer Judy Viebig. ''That's great! We'll mail you your card."
During the first six months of this year there were 17,740 citizenship applications filed in Houston, compared with 9,786 during the first six months of 2006. That's an 81 percent increase. Nationally, filings for citizenship increased by 59 percent for the first five months of this year, compared with the same period in 2006.
Linda Cohn, co-chairwoman of the voter registration committee of the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area, said the 66 percent hike in citizenship application fees that took effect July 30 motivated many to file.
''And immigration is a very hot issue," Cohn said. "Remember at the marches last year when they said, 'Today we march, tomorrow we vote!' "