IMMIGRANTS & VOTING
The opportunity is ripe to mobilize immigrant voters
- In California, immigrants make up one-quarter of all residents. Nine million Californians are immigrants, according to the U.S. Census.1
- By 2050, Latino and Asian populations – communities with dominant immigrant populations – are projected to reach about 25 percent and 10 percent of the total U.S. population, respectively. 2
- While the voting rates of immigrants are not proportional to their current population, our overall share of the electorate in recent elections has increased four times as quickly as that of non-immigrant groups.3
Immigrants are an integral part of our societal fabric
- In California, immigrants speak more than 250 distinct languages, 5 comprise approximately one-third of the labor force,5 and pay approximately $4.5 billion in state taxes each year.6
- Schools, neighborhoods and businesses thrive when immigrants are incorporated into the community as active participants in the decisions that affect them and their families.
- The time and energy that we invest in engaging and empowering the immigrant community now will allow us to reap the benefits of a stronger and more inclusive California in the future.
Immigrant communities are eager to participate in elections. Yet, a number of barriers exist that discourage participation.
- Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV) addresses some of these barriers by producing and distributing information that is easy to understand, translated and culturally-appropriate. This includes our voter rights palm cards and voter guide.
Immigrants need the tools to engage in our civic process.
- The potential for increased civic engagement of immigrants is tremendous. If we provide the necessary tools, we will see immigrants’ share of the electorate increase even more.
- The Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Campaign provides the tools that help to bridge the gap between those who live in California and those who vote in California.
Immigrants are a growing voting force in California.
- Mobilize the Immigrant Vote will draw on its immigrant community contacts built over the last two years to energize the immigrant vote. In 2004, almost 73% of immigrant voters reached by MIV went to the polls – 69% of those were first-time or infrequent voters!
- The latest studies show that immigrants can have an enormous impact on the outcome of future elections. In California alone, 3.2 million immigrants are eligible to naturalize, and almost 1 million children of immigrant will be eligible to vote in 2008.
MIV 2006 recognizes the rich resources that exist in immigrant communities.
- We establish partnerships with community-based organizations that have a history of working with community members.
- Together, we work to increase membership and engage existing members and train leaders to educate members on elections, campaigns and issues. Our partnerships continue even after the elections.
The mass mobilizations shifted the national debate on immigration reform which was a huge victory in and of itself. We have definitely witnessed increased interest in naturalization and civic participation within the immigrant community since these mobilizations.
- 441,759 individuals naturalized in the first 8 months of 2006—an increase of 18 percent. The number of naturalizations in May 2006 is up 42 percent when compared to May 2005 (Fair Immigrant Rights Movement, FIRM).
- MIV anticipates that the over 150 campaign partners throughout California will have registered approximately 20,000 new voters and will have contacted about 30,000 immigrant voters by November 7, 2006.
Immigrant organizations are making direct connections with the issues of immigrant rights and the importance of voting.
- All of MIV’s education, forums, and materials link the future of immigrant families with the importance of participating in the electoral process and being active community leaders. We involve all immigrants and their family members—regardless of immigration status--in educating and mobilizing those who can vote within our communities.
Immigrant organizations and leaders are in this for the long haul.
- Building strong infrastructure to do elections work takes time. Many of the MIV campaign partner organizations have increased their capacity to register, educate and turnout voters for this November election. The results for the November 2006 will be one benchmark, but we are already planning for the 2008 election.
- Immigrant communities are strengthening alliances with African American and other non-immigrant communities who face many of the same barriers to full citizenship.
- U.S. Census Bureau
- “Election 2004: The Latino and Asian Vote,” Jeffrey S. Passel, Urban Institute, July 27, 2004; “Hispanics and the 2004 Election,” Report by the Pew Hispanic Center, June 27, 2005.
- Little Hoover Commission, “We the People: Helping Newcomers Become Californians,” June 2002.
- Auerhahn, Louise and Bob Brownstein, “The Economic Effects of Immigration in Santa Clara County and
- California,” Working Partnerships USA, 2004.
- Calculated from U.S. Census data and Employment Development Department of California data from 2005