Increased Immigration, Decreased Voting

As the immigration debate continues to heat up in the United States this summer, it is important to think about what immigration numbers mean when we take voting and politics into account. A Pew Research report issued in May 2014 demonstrates that in recent decades there has been a sharp rise in immigrants living in the U.S. there has been a "sharp rise in the number of immigrants living in the U.S. in recent decades." Many states with large foreign-born populations have seen an increase in the percentage of those gaining citizenship rights. The report states:

In 1990, the U.S. had 19.8 million immigrants. That number rose to a record 40.7 million immigrants in 2012, among them 11.7 million unauthorized. Over this period, the number of immigrants in the U.S. increased more than five times as much as the U.S.-born population (106.1 percent versus 19.3 percent).

These statistics mean that in four states, California, New York, New Jersey and Florida, 20% are foreign born. In 1990, only California had that kind of statistic. As the Immigration Policy Center points out in it's September 2013 report: "In the 2014 elections, there will be approximately 9.3 million newly eligible voters. These include both people who were 16 or 17 years old at the time of the 2012 elections, as well as immigrants who [became] naturalized U.S. citizens between 2012 and 2014. Of these 9.3 million newly eligible voters, 1.8 million will be Asian or Latino. Another 1.4 million will be new U.S. citizens through naturalization. Together, these 3.2 million people will comprise 34 percent of the new electorate."

Despite these numbers, as Pew pointed out in April, voter turnout among Hispanics and Asians has fallen in midterm elections in recent years. As immigrant groups drive diversification in the country, efforts should be made to get them to the polls and reflect their numbers in electoral politics.