Monday, November 3, 2008

COLORADO: New Americans Likely to Impact The Election

Here's a statement from Rights for All People in Colorado about the growing political power of immigrants and their children.

New Americans, immigrants who have recently become citizens, are the fastest growing electorate in America. Strong evidence that suggests they can impact the outcome of the election in swing states such as Colorado. According to a new report by the Immigration Policy Center, New Americans counted for 5.5% of all registered voters in Colorado in 2004, while the margin of victory in the 2004 Presidential race amounted to only 4.3% of registered voters. Not only have there been record-breaking naturalization and voter registration drives in 2008, but immigrants have become more engaged in their local communities regardless of their immigration status. Democracy is for everyone.

Political attacks on immigrants have increased, and the community has responded by becoming active. Rights for All People/Derechos Para Todos (RAPs) has organized efforts to increase civic participation among immigrants. RAP’s role has been to bring the voices of immigrants directly to the policy process regardless of whether someone can vote or not. The organization is working to ensure that community residents are heard, especially about the difficulty immigrants have in achieving citizenship due to the broken U.S. immigration system. RAP has provided citizenship classes to over 90 people from 2007 to 2008. RAP members have played a significant role in advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, and have conducted numerous “Know Your Rights” campaigns to their communities.

RAP believes that immigrant participation in the civic process begins before citizenship. Non-citizen immigrants are likely to become citizens, but begin to develop their political behavior long before the ceremony. There are many immigrants who cannot currently vote, but everyone can have a significant impact on the voting behavior of their citizen friends, family, and co-workers. As a result, RAP has focused developing civic leadership skills among non-citizen immigrants through its unique Friend-to-Friend Program. This program utilizes the untapped base of non-citizen immigrants by organizing them to contact citizens they know and encourage them to vote.

The path for hardworking immigrants to be productive citizens, civic leaders, and respected members of society has already been paved. As New Americans turn out to vote in numbers, their voices will truly be heard.

No comments: