RESULTS FROM TWO NATIONAL EXIT POLLS REVEALED: IMMIGRANTS WHO MARCHED VOTED ON NOVEMBER 7 HIGH SUPPORT FOR HUMANE & JUST IMMIGRATION REFORM POLICIES[Los Angeles] With the 2006 Elections decided, the National Korean American Service and Education (NAKASEC) and its affiliates Korean Resource Center (Los Angeles), Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (Chicago), and YKASEC- Empowering the Korean American Community (New York), report on how Asian Pacific American, Korean American, and immigrant voters made their voices heard and what they said.
NAKASEC and its affiliates were part of two complimentary national exit polls; the New Americans Exit Poll was a 3-city study on the voting behavior of immigrant voters in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle and the Asian Pacific American Exit Poll surveyed the voting attitudes and trends of Asian Pacific American and Korean American voters — both voting groups that underrepresented in most mainstream and national studies. In summary the findings were the following:
New Americans Exit Poll
The New Americans Exit Poll was originally launched by the New York Immigration Coalition together with Professors Lori Minnite of Barnard College and John Mollenkopf of CUNY’s Graduate Center in 2000. This year, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, Central American Resource Center, and the Coalition for the Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles joined the effort in Los Angeles and Hate Free Zone in Seattle. Data from the Los Angeles study was analyzed by Fernando J. Guerra, Director the Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. Key findings from the study are also attached to the press release.
* 1/3 of the voters surveyed participated or had a family member who participated in the Spring immigrant rights mass mobilizations. This figure belies the assumption that those who marched were largely undocumented and indicates that there was an unprecedented politicization of immigrants this year that resulted in a higher level of their civic participation.
* 40% of first-time voters were immigrant voters. Each election from midterm to the presidential race, there has been a consistent rate of growth of first time voters who are immigrants. No doubt this is an indicator of the growing influence and power of the immigrant electorate.
* 75% of voters regardless of race or nativity followed the Spring immigrant rights mobilizations closely.
* Voters regardless of race or nativity (at differing levels) believed that Democrats were the better party for handling immigration but a healthy percentage of voters were skeptical of both parties which may be a reflection of the inability by Congress to produce workable solutions to date.
Asian Pacific American (APA) Exit Poll
Since 1996, NAKASEC and its affiliates have partnered with local Asian Pacific American organizations to conduct the APA Exit Poll. This year, NAKASEC affiliates worked with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEP) in Chicago and New York and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) in Los Angeles to survey voters.
Immigration was one of the top 3 issues of concern for Korean American voters behind jobs/economy and health care.
80% of Korean Americans favor creating a way for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status; 72%oppose criminalizing undocumented immigrants; and 75% favor reducing the amount of time the government takes to process paperwork for immigrants waiting to enter the country. As in Chicago, immigration was the third most important issue of concern for Korean American voters behind jobs/economy and health care.
Los Angeles, CA:
78% of Korean Americans favor creating a way for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status; 70% oppose criminalizing undocumented immigrants; and 87% favor reducing the amount of time the government takes to process paperwork for immigrants waiting to enter the country.
EunSook Lee, NAKASEC executive director said: “The national shift favoring Democrats to Republicans was a result of several issues including immigration. Voters communicated clearly about their desire for a change in leadership but this mandate was not unconditional. Concrete and workable solutions are needed urgently to not only address national concerns about the war in Iraq but about the need for immigration reform.”
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC executive director added: “From March to May, we chanted â€˜Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote.’ The November 7 exit polls demonstrate how immigrants stayed true to the mantra. Not only did our community members follow and participate in the rallies, but on November 7, they voted. The challenge today for the President and Congress to begin enacting truly humane and just immigration reform laws.”