Immigrants are preparing to turn out like never before. This time, they will not be marching. They will be exercising their right to vote as newly minted Americans, US-born sons and daughters of immigrants, and long-time citizens of immigrant origin.
Immigrant voters are concerned about the same issues as most Americans- the economy, healthcare, and education, to name a few. However, for many of these new voters, the looming issue of immigration reform remains a litmus test as to whether or not to trust a given candidate.
The surge of the immigrant vote may come as a surprise to many, but not to the dozens of organizations that form the We Are America Alliance (WAAA). The Alliance is driving the largest coordinated effort in our nation’s history to increase immigrant civic engagement. In a push to commemorate National Citizenship Day (September 17th), Alliance members held events that successfully registered 20,000 new Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters.
Just this year, WAAA partners together have registered total of 372,591 immigrant voters, and they are set to mobilize one million voters to the polls this fall. Their combined effort is taking place in 13 different states with large immigrant populations, several of which will play a key role in deciding the outcome of this year’s election.
STATE NEW REGISTRATIONS
New Hampshire Not available
New Mexico 36,153
New York 14,640
These impressive efforts are not happening alone. Unprecedented radio and television mobilization efforts to register and engage the Latino vote are taking many forms in key battleground states. The Wall Street Journal highlighted the efforts of the NALEO Educational Fund to drive a million new Latino voters to the polls.
The “Ya es Hora! Ve y Vota!” (Now is the time! Go vote!) campaign, supported by State Farm, Univision, and the largest Spanish-language publisher in the U.S., ImpreMedia LLC, could “create a surge of Latino voters, especially in several swing states,” and, according to new polling figures, “would likely benefit Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Between the “Ya es Hora!” Campaign and the $10 million effort led by the We Are America Alliance in 13 key electoral states, a record number of immigrant and Latino voters are being mobilized to get out and vote.
The immigration marches of 2006 and 2007 took the American public by surprise, but there should be no surprise this November, when this historic push to engage and mobilize eligible immigrant voters in battleground states results in the massive participation of a new and growing demographic.
When the political pundits begin to assess what took place in the 2008 elections, as they did in the 2006 marches, the role of the immigration debate in turning out the immigrant and Latino vote will be undeniable. All those new voters, in favor of sensible and humane immigration reform, will look to the newly-elected to recognize the role immigration played in the election and seek a fair and long-overdue immigration policy reform.
In the absence of reform, however, we can only imagine what the 2009 marches would look like.