While some characterize our immigration crisis as solely an issue of the 11 to 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in this country, our problems extend beyond the number of undocumented people to a broader range of issues.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data on the Latino population of the United States that underscores the extent to which the immigrant experience is embedded in the social (and political) fabric of the United States. The political significance of these statistics is apparent in the most recent IPC Fact Check. Latinos comprise the fastest-growing group of voters in the United States. The number of naturalized U.S. citizens is increasing rapidly and the electoral clout of New American voters who share a direct, personal connection to the immigrant experience—that is, naturalized citizens and the U.S.-born children of immigrants—is on the rise.
Citizenship Day (September 17) is an appropriate time to take stock of the growing number of U.S. citizens who are immigrants to this country—or who are the children of immigrants. Roughly one-in-seventeen U.S. citizens are foreign-born, and tens of millions of native-born U.S. citizens have immigrant parents. This demographic reality has important political ramifications. A rising share of the U.S. electorate has a direct personal connection to the immigrant experience, and is unlikely to be favorably swayed by politicians who employ anti-immigrant rhetoric to mobilize supporters. This is particularly true among the two fastest-growing groups of voters in the nation: Latinos and Asians. The majority of Latinos and Asians are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, and they comprised one out of every ten voters in the 2008 election.
IPC has compiled this one-stop analysis of all the available data on the Asian, Latino and New American vote and shows how and why they voted the way they did in the 2008 election cycle. The report features a variety of early, exit and election-day polling which tells the story of not only a record rate turnout, but also provides insight into the greatest areas of concern for these voters. It also explores early signals from the new administration and congress with respect to immigration reform.
The 2008 elections clearly demonstrated the growing power of the Latino, Asian, and immigrant vote. Not only did these groups turn out in record numbers, they also overwhelmingly rejected anti-immigrant politicians who attempted to use immigration as a wedge issue through hateful campaign rhetoric that is quickly becoming an unhealthy trademark of the Republican Party.
The following report illustrates the growing electoral clout of Latinos, Asians, and New Americans; provides data on how and why they voted; and demonstrates that immigration was an issue that motivated them to the polls. Election results from races in which immigration was a hot issue show that immigrant-bashing did not work as a campaign strategy. The report also provides evidence that a majority of all voters favor comprehensive immigration reform, and details early signs from the incoming administration and Congress that point to a new direction in immigration policy.
Politicians of all stripes would be wise to listen to the voices of ethnic and New American voters and not take them for granted. The analysis provided in the following pages points to the strength and growth of what may be the most important voting bloc in 21st century politics—one that now has the power profoundly to change American elections in the years to come.
Latinos weren't the only group that flexed its muscles this past Election Day. New Americans--naturalized citizens and the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were born during the current era of immigration that began in 1965--make up another important demographic group that demonstrated its ability to swing an election.
At a time when federal, state, and local elections are often decided by small voting margins—with candidates frequently locked in ferocious competition for the ballots of those “voting blocs” that might turn the electoral tide in their favor—one large and growing bloc of voters has been consistently overlooked and politically underestimated: New Americans.
According to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States did not increase between 2007 and 2008, and may actually have fallen. These findings should come as no surprise given the current state of the economy.
While the U.S. government has poured billions upon billions of dollars into immigration enforcement, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has increased dramatically. Rather than reducing undocumented immigration, this enforcement-without-reform strategy has diverted the resources and attention of federal authorities to the pursuit of undocumented immigrants who are drawn here by the labor needs of our own economy.
Immigration has begun to level off and immigrants are climbing the socio-economic ladder and becoming increasingly important to the U.S. economy as workers, taxpayers, and homebuyers supporting the aging Baby Boom generation.