In just two decades, immigrants have nearly doubled their representation in the American electorate, translating to a record high of nearly one in 10 eligible 2020 voters being foreign-born, according to a new Pew Report.
The number rose from 12 million eligible voters in 2000 to 23.2 million voters by 2020, a stunning 93 percent increase. In contrast, the native-born voting population grew over 5 times slower at an increase of just 18 percent.
As a result, immigrants’ overall proportion of the electorate has increased from 6.2 percent in 2000 to 9.8 percent in just 20 years.
Barring President Trump’s efforts to curtail legal immigration by targeting chain migration, this strong upward trend shows no signs of stopping.
The Pew Report points to two factors responsible for both the unprecedented rate at which immigrant voting power is increasing and the representation itself:
First, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has increased steadily since 1965, when the Immigration and Nationality Act became law. Then, the nation’s 9.6 million immigrants made up just 5% of the population. Today, 45 million immigrants live in the country, accounting for about 13.9% of the population. Most are either from Latin America or Asia.
Second, a rising number and share of immigrants living in the U.S. have naturalized in recent years. Between 2009 and 2019, 7.2 million immigrants naturalized and became citizens, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In fiscal year 2018 alone, more than 756,000 immigrants naturalized.
In other words, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act shifted the ethnic composition of legal immigrants from predominantly white to non-white, and corporate interests have fast-tracked the citizenship process by lobbying for an endless supply of H1-B Visas and work permits: a fait accompli by the American establishment.
As a result, “collectively Hispanics and Asians make up the majority of immigrants eligible to vote”: as of 2018, Hispanic immigrants composed the plurality of all foreign-born voters at 34 percent, Asians composed 31 percent, Whites composed 22 percent, and Blacks composed 10 percent.
And since 2000, every ethnic group except Whites saw increases in their proportion of the foreign-born electorate, inextricably linked to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and big business quest to increase profit margins by importing cheaper labor.
And the political power of the foreign-born voting bloc for some ethnicities is not latent: while immigrant voter turnout rates tend to trail native-born voters, the inverse is true for demographics with the largest populations, Asians and Hispanics:
“Among Hispanic eligible voters in 2016, about half (53%) of immigrants voted, compared with 46% of the U.S. born, a pattern that has persisted since 2000. Among Asian eligible voters in 2016, 52% of immigrants voted, compared with 45% of the U.S. born.”
Pew’s “demographic profile of the foreign-born electorate” also shows some concerning trends: 37 percent of immigrant voters spoke “English less than very well” and 19 percent had “educational attainment less than high school.”
Also worrisome is the rate at which immigrants vote Democrat, upwards of 60 percent.
Such unity is not surprising given other Pew other studies which demonstrate 75 percent of Hispanics favor a “bigger government which provides more services than a smaller government which provides fewer services” and 62 percent “prefer gun control.” Similarly, 80 percent of Asian voters support gun control measures.
These patterns are especially concerning considering the distribution of immigrants. More than 50 percent of the foreign-born electorate reside in California, New York, Florida, and Texas, totaling over 15 percent of the entire American electorate.
While California and New York are solidly blue, in part due to immigration, Florida is a crucial swing state and Texas is slowly approaching that status. While Democrats may chalk up increased success in swing states to their policies, in reality, they’re artificially importing voters to vote for policies native-born Americans won’t.
Luckily Republicans under President Trump have a strong populist message to weaponize for 2020, robust enough to prevail against even a rapidly changing voting demographic.