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U.S. Immigration and Immigrant Voters on the Eve of Election 2004

Press Release
Friday, October 29, 2004

U.S. Immigration and Immigrant Voters on the Eve of Election 2004

American immigration a key issue in the Presidential debates, and immigrants could play a critical role in deciding the outcome of this year’s election. The Migration Policy Institute has compiled information on Latino and Asian voters, the rights of non-citizens to vote in local elections, and the decline in legal immigration in 2003.

Included in this election package are highlights from and links to previews of two articles from the Migration Information Source, MPI’s award-winning online resource.

Also included is a link to MPI’s new fact sheet with the latest figures on U.S. immigration.

Latino and Asian-American Voters in the 2004 Election and Beyond
By Jeffrey S. Passel, Urban Institute

While the number of votes cast by whites in the presidential election rose by only four percent between 1996 and 2000, the number of Asian-American votes rose by 22 percent. The votes of Latino Americans increased by 19 percent. In 2004, Asian-American votes will probably increase by another one-third over 2000 and Latino votes by about one-quarter while the overall total will probably go up by only about four to five percent.

Latinos account for about 7.8 percent of potential voters nationwide. In the most heavily Latino state, New Mexico (40 percent), the presidential election was extraordinarily close in 2000. In Texas (25 percent) and California (19 percent), Latinos are unlikely to make a difference since Bush and Kerry, respectively, are prohibitive favorites. However, in potential swing states, such as Ohio or Wisconsin, even the one to two percent of potential voters who are Latino could play a critical role.”

Immigrant Voting Rights Receive More Attention
By Ron Hayduk, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and Michele Wucker, World Policy Institute

With an estimated 12 million votes hanging in the balance, initiatives to allow non-citizen legal permanent residents to vote in municipal and school board elections will make a significant difference in many U.S. communities. This article explores the pros and cons of non-citizen voting and includes a list of countries where non-citizens can vote.

Legal Immigration to US Still Declining: An MPI Fact Sheet
By Deborah Meyers and Jennifer Yau

New data released by the Department of Homeland Security show that in FY 2003:

  • Legal immigration fell by 34 percent from 2002.
  • The number of people in the US who were able to adjust their status to legal permanent residence dropped 50 percent because of processing bottlenecks, explaining much of the overall decline.
  • The level of newly arriving legal permanent residents remained relatively steady.
  • Refugee admissions rose only slightly from the 25-year low following 9/11.
  • The level of temporary visitors continued at 15 percent below pre-9/11 levels.
  • Naturalizations decreased by 19 percent.

MPI Director Kathleen Newland said, “The United States has always been a nation of immigrants, and findings presented by MPI demonstrate that the political participation of newcomers remains an essential determinant of where we go as a nation.”