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By Rob Paral

The Latino vote is widely discussed at election time, yet little analysis is dedicated to the €œimmigrant vote,” and even less to the growing bloc of voters who are the U.S.-born children of immigrants. Yet, both immigrants and their children are showing tremendous growth and voting potential. Although many second-generation Americans are still children, more and more of them will come of voting age in future elections. As that happens, political candidates will be forced to take notice.

The latent power of the second generation becomes apparent when we examine the U.S.-citizen population by age group. For instance, at the time of the last presidential election in 2008, only 5% of U.S. citizens age 45-54 had an immigrant parent. But the share with an immigrant parent jumped to one-fifth (20%) among U.S. citizens under the age of 18. In fact, the “Under 18” group represents the largest group with at least one-immigrant parent in two generations.

In some states, the still-unrealized electoral potential of the children of immigrants is enormous. Take California, where 47% of U.S. citizens under the age of 18 had an immigrant parent in 2010, while more than 30% did in Nevada, Texas, New York, and New Jersey.

While these voters will have interests that mirror those of the general population, they will be keenly aware of policies and rhetoric around immigration as it impacts their families directly. More and more second-generation Americans are moving from childhood into adulthood (and the voting booth) each year. As this trend continues, we can expect that more and more voters will be turned off by the anti-immigrant rhetoric upon which many political candidates have come to rely. Their potential, while yet untapped, is exemplary of a coming wave of voters that politicians must be ready to respond to.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You're sort of just mocking our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    immigration system...."ha ha they got around it, had kids, and now they'll vote....." What will they vote for, IPC?

    Today, strive to be the person you want to be.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 09:18:28 AM PDT

    •  Not quite (0+ / 0-)

      I've never understood the argument against "Anchor babies". Oh look, because the child managed to make it here, they should be kicked out anyway? Even though it's no fault of their own? What I think the poster is trying to get at is that as these children grow into voters, it's our responsibility to educate them and show them what the parties are doing for them or against them. These voters are vital to building a solidly democratic, hopefully progressive, block, that can finally get us moving away from the Gilded Age II.

    •  The 'Immigration Policy Center' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Is one of the mouthpieces for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

      Before they answer your question as to 'who will they vote for' they have to answer my question as to their definition of 'immigrant' and just what they would qualify as 'anti-immigrant rhetoric'.

      I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

      by superscalar on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 09:27:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  superscaler - I agree the IPC is disingenuous (0+ / 0-)

        We all have immigrant relatives, all of my grandparents were born in Europe. Using the term immigrants without distinguishing between those who immigrated legally and those who didn't is completely disingenuous on the part of the Immigration Policy Center. Very few Americans have any issues with people who immigrate to the US legally. The public polity debate is about the undocumented immigrants and to suggest otherwise is dishonest.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 09:51:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Some people who have relatives from Spanish (0+ / 0-)

    speaking countries are watching how undocumented  and  'suspicious" people are treated in places like Arizona. Some people fear that the anti-immigrant feeling in the US doesn't really distinguish between legal and illegal people.

    The fear is that people just think all Latinos are illegal and don't like them and are passing laws that discriminate against them.

    Does an immigrant have to be of European descent to be considered non-suspicious and avoid harassment in some states and counties?

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