At a time when federal, state, and local elections are often decided by small voting margins—with candidates frequently locked in ferocious competition for the ballots of those “voting blocs” that might turn the electoral tide in their favor—one large and growing bloc of voters has been consistently overlooked and politically underestimated: New Americans. This group of voters and potential voters includes not only immigrants who have become U.S. citizens (Naturalized Americans), but also the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965 (the Post-1965 Children of Immigrants). Read more...
New CBO Report Underscores Diverse Contributions of Foreign-Born Workers
A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) underscores not only the diversity of the foreign-born labor force in the United States, but also the myriad roles that immigrant workers play in the U.S. economy. The report, which analyzes data from the Current Population Survey, finds that 15.5 percent of the U.S. labor force was foreign-born in 2009, up slightly from 14.5 percent in 2004. Moreover, immigrant workers and their native-born counterparts differ significantly in terms of occupation and education, as well as where in the country they live. As other, more detailed analyses have confirmed, this suggests that immigrants and natives are filling different niches in the U.S. labor market and are therefore not in direct competition with each other for most jobs.
The 18.9 million immigrant women and girls in the United States in 2008 present a portrait of demographic diversity on many fronts. An analysis of Census Bureau data reveals that immigrant women are not easily categorized or stereotyped—and that many common myths about immigrants are shattered when we look carefully at the demographic diversity of these women.
While immigrant communities across the nation endure the long wait for immigration reform, there are roughly 19 million immigrant women and girls currently in the U.S. Immigrant women, particularly the undocumented, are often more vulnerable than their male counterparts, lack the same economic opportunities, and experience exploitation while crossing the border, while working and even in their own homes. In short, immigrant women have become the silent victims of a broken immigration system.
In this IPC report, immigration attorney Kavitha Sreeharsha lays out the economic and social disparities, legal barriers to current immigration law and the many dangers hard-working immigrant women are forced to endure.
The report also explores how women are distinctly harmed by heightened enforcement of immigration laws. Abusers, traffickers, and exploitative employers keep immigrant women from seeking local law-enforcement protection by convincing them that police officers are working in partnership with DHS and will deport victims instead of protecting them. Essentially, these enforcement measures increase the likelihood of abuse and assault against immigrant women by cutting them off from help and giving their perpetrators a powerful tool to silence their victims and escape prosecution.
Ultimately, the author concludes, only through a comprehensive immigration reform package—one that includes a path to legalization that values the contributions immigrant woman make as mothers, wives and workers—can the U.S. reconcile these disparities.
Every 10 years, as required by the U.S. Constitution, the federal government undertakes a massive nationwide effort to count the residents of the United States, who now number more than 300 million. The results form the basis for the apportionment of congressional districts and the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds, as well as serving to guide a wide range of community-planning decisions across the country.DD The Census is, however, no stranger to controversy, such as the suggestion by some activists that immigrants sit out the Census this year to protest the federal government’s failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform.DD Yet, among demographic groups like immigrants and ethnic minorities who are typically under-counted in the Census, a boycott would be self-defeating. Moreover, anyone living in an area afflicted by a large under-count of any sort stands to lose out on political representation and federal funds.DD For instance, an undercount of Latino immigrants would impact anyone living in a state such as California, New York, or Illinois that has a large population of Latino immigrants—meaning that everyone in those states stands to lose political representation and access to economic and educational opportunities if their residents aren’t fully counted in 2010.
From the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigrants have made significant contributions to the United States by serving in our military forces. Today, immigrants voluntarily serve in all branches of the U.S. military and are a vital asset to the Department of Defense. To recognize their unique contribution, immigrants serving honorably in the military who are not yet U.S. citizens are granted significant advantages in the naturalization process. Over the past eight years, Congress has amended military-related enlistment and naturalization rules to allow expanded benefits for immigrants and their families and encourage recruitment of immigrants into the U.S. Armed Forces. Without the contributions of immigrants, the military could not meet its recruiting goals and could not fill its need for foreign-language translators, interpreters, and cultural experts. This latest Special Report reflects on the vital role immigrants have and continue to play in keeping our nation safe.
We can expect every major piece of comprehensive reform legislation to tackle the issue of creating a legal status for the 11- 12 million undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. Ultimately, most politicians and policy makers agree that practically, the U.S. cannot deport this population, and some kind of process for legalizing status is necessary. However, there remains a temptation to create high penalties in exchange for a green card because many politicians want to ensure that people have paid the price for coming to the country illegally. An overly punitive process, however, ultimately defeats the purpose of a legalization program because it will deter people from participating and potentially drive people further underground. A successful legalization program combines measured penalties with clear and achievable goals that will get the maximum number of people into the system, identify the relatively few who do not belong here based on criminal activity, and integrate those who can contribute their talents as quickly as possible.
While some characterize our immigration crisis as solely an issue of the 11 to 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in this country, our problems extend beyond the number of undocumented people to a broader range of issues.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data on the Latino population of the United States that underscores the extent to which the immigrant experience is embedded in the social (and political) fabric of the United States. The political significance of these statistics is apparent in the most recent IPC Fact Check. Latinos comprise the fastest-growing group of voters in the United States. The number of naturalized U.S. citizens is increasing rapidly and the electoral clout of New American voters who share a direct, personal connection to the immigrant experience—that is, naturalized citizens and the U.S.-born children of immigrants—is on the rise.
Citizenship Day (September 17) is an appropriate time to take stock of the growing number of U.S. citizens who are immigrants to this country—or who are the children of immigrants. Roughly one-in-seventeen U.S. citizens are foreign-born, and tens of millions of native-born U.S. citizens have immigrant parents. This demographic reality has important political ramifications. A rising share of the U.S. electorate has a direct personal connection to the immigrant experience, and is unlikely to be favorably swayed by politicians who employ anti-immigrant rhetoric to mobilize supporters. This is particularly true among the two fastest-growing groups of voters in the nation: Latinos and Asians. The majority of Latinos and Asians are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, and they comprised one out of every ten voters in the 2008 election.