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New Report Underscores Power and Potential of Immigrant Voters

By March 30, 2006No Comments


Analyzing census data, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) of the American Immigration Law Foundation, released an analysis that illustrates the growth of the immigrant electorate as well as the increasing size and power of Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander American (APIA) voters.The report, POWER AND POTENTIAL: The Growing Electoral Clout of New Citizens, is part of the IPC’s Immigration Policy In Focus series.

Telephonic Press Conference
Wednesday, October 20, 2004: 3:00 pm Eastern Time
Moderator: Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Director of State and Local Policy, National Council of La Raza
Rob Paral and Benjamin Johnson, Report Authors, Immigration Policy Center
Christina Lopez, Deputy Executive Director, Center for Community Change
EunSook Lee, Executive Director, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Jorge Mursuli, National Director, Mi Familia Vota

Text of EunSook Lee’s statement
Immigrant, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander Americans are registering in record numbers this year. In the APIA community for example, since 2000, hundreds of thousands have registered.

Here in Los Angeles, the voter registration deadline was this past Monday, October 18 and the response was tremendous. At our community center here in Koreatown more than 300 were registered that day. From seniors to students to working parents, immigrant voters, most of them new citizens walked in from all over Los Angeles and Orange counties to register. As immigrant voters, they are generally less familiar with the electoral process and also face barriers because many are limited English proficient. It is not easy to navigate the system for US born voters, and we can imagine how much more difficult it would be for immigrant voters. For this reason, these displays of our immigrant population, especially our elderly taking the extra effort to exercise their voting rights that certainly motivates many of us. But it is also a sign of our community truly becoming engaged in the electoral process. Our community knows that there are important issues at stake and they have a responsible role in shaping the outcomes. This is also why this year, we are seeing the voter registration drives becoming a collective community effort. Area churches and senior centers have contacted us about coming in to assist with voter registration and absentee ballot applications. Ethnic media has also provided regular coverage and updates.

Some of the comments I heard this past Monday were:

Ms. Hong, a newly registered voter from Bellflower, California said: “I’ve been waiting years for this opportunity. As an immigrant, I want to support candidates that meet our needs.”

A young college student from Orange County added: Asian Americans can’t easily go out to vote. So it’s great to see organizations come out to meet the community at churches and markets to register voters. And because we don’t know enough about the propositions and issues, Korean language guides are particularly needed.

And an elderly woman from Long Beach, took a bus for 2 hours to come to our center and said simply: “Korean Americans must vote.”

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