With evolving electorate, immigration reform can’t be ignored

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    Hundreds rallied in July in support of immigration reform.

    In July, hundreds rallied on Capital Hill in support of immigration reform. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

    A vote on immigration reform in Congress could come later this year.

    But before members of Congress vote on the issue, the Immigration Policy Center is calling on them to consider the findings of a new study the research group released Tuesday.

    The newly released study shows that the electoral composition in congressional districts is on track to change as more naturalized U.S. citizens and young Latinos and Asians — many of whom support immigration reform — become eligible to vote in the next few years.

    “Representatives contemplating their eventual vote on immigration reform need to weigh the numerous policy arguments in favor of reform and make an informed decision, but they must also understand the shifting demographic dimensions of their districts,” stated Rob Paral, the author of the study.

    “Despite the composition of current voters, congressional representatives need to see their electorate not only for what it is, but for what it is becoming,” he added.

    More Latinos, Asians become eligible to vote

    Paral’s study found that recently naturalized U.S. citizens, young Latinos and Asians will have a big impact on the composition of the new electorate in the years to come as more of them become eligible to vote.

    In each two-year election cycle, an estimated 1.8 million Asians and Latinos will become naturalized U.S. citizens and eligible to vote. Another 1.4 million newly naturalized U.S. citizens will become eligible to vote in each two-year election cycle.

    By the 2014 elections, these three groups combined will make up 34 percent of the 9.3 million newly eligible voters.

    Though the entire nation will see the impact of the growing number of recently naturalized U.S. citizens, Latinos and Asians who are becoming eligible to vote, some states will see a bigger impact.

    California will feel the biggest impact, with recently naturalized U.S. citizens, Latinos and Asians making up 68 percent of the newly eligible voters in that state in 2014. Texas comes in second with 53 percent and Florida comes in third with 45 percent.

    Immigration reform cannot be ignored

    Paral concludes the study pointing out that following the 2012 election, Republicans argued that their party needed to support immigration reform in order to remain competitive.

    He said many GOP leaders — including Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California — have “embraced” this idea of supporting immigration reform and others have argued against it, saying it is less compelling in districts where Latinos and Asians don’t make up a large percentage of voters.

    “Even if that is the case, the luxury of ignoring immigration reform will not last much longer,” Paral stated in the report. “The next generation of voters, even in many districts that are currently homogenous, will be more diverse and more inclined towards supporting a redesign of immigration policy.”

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