Immigration and the Dems

In this week's Phoenix, I take a look at how illegal immigration is playing out in the governor's race. One of my conclusions: supporters of illegal/undocumented immigrants haven't done enough to convince the Democrats that disagreeing with Kerry Healey is politically smart.

Maybe that's about to change, though. A new report by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights puts the total number of U.S.-born, unregistered, 18-to-24-year-old kids of illegal immigrants here in Massachusetts at more than 35,000--a decent-sized pool of voters, especially if they're highly motivated.

But wait! A press release from the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition cites this total as "greater than the vote differential of 29,477 votes for the 2002 gubernatorial election." I duly reprinted this characterization in my initial blog post on the subject. But it's since been brought to my attention that the margin in the 2002 general election was about 106,000 votes--which, to state the obvious, makes MIRA's observation a little less compelling.

With that caveat in mind, here's the press release MIRA put out earlier today, which also describes MIRA's ongoing efforts to register new voters from the aforementioned group:

New Report Shows Untapped Power of Immigrant Voters in Massachusetts

Boston, MA – A new report Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote: The Untapped Power of Over 14 Million Potential New Immigrant Voters was released today, illustrating the huge well of untapped immigrant voters who, if properly engaged, could decide the fate of upcoming elections.  Using data from the US Census and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the report, among other findings, identifies 14.25 million immigrants and children of immigrants as a potential voting bloc and outlines the eleven presidential swing states in which the number of immigrant voters is greater than the vote differential between Bush and Kerry in 2004. 

The full report can be found at:

In Massachusetts, the report identifies over 35,000 U.S. born 18-24 year old children of immigrants not registered to vote: greater than the vote differential of 29,477 votes for the 2002 gubernatorial election.

The We Are America Alliance, a nationwide collection of labor, faith, and immigrant rights groups, announced summer plans to dramatically increase the number of registered voters in immigrant and minority communities and the number of citizenship applications from eligible immigrants.  Promising a targeted campaign aimed at tight elections, groups calling for comprehensive immigration reform set out plans to make the difference in November.

“The ‘Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote’ chant during the immigrant rights rallies was not empty rhetoric. Given the more than 14 million legal permanent residents and children of immigrants who could be voting in the 2008 presidential elections, and the thousands who will vote for the first time this November in Massachusetts, these new voters could dramatically worsen the electoral prospects of any elected official who opposes immigrant rights,”” said Ali Noorani, executive director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

“Democracy Summer” aims to tap this well of eligible or soon to be eligible voters through grassroots activism and engagement of immigrant and minority communities.  Participants in “Democracy Summer” have identified areas throughout the nation where high concentrations of unregistered Latinos and other minority community members live, and starting July 1, will engage and register those communities. Participants will also help educate new voters about the pending immigration debate affecting their lives. 

On June 30, 2006, organizations in Lowell and Pittsfield will be holding Citizenship Days where over 200 immigrants will file for citizenship.  (For more information regarding Lowell call Sister Janet Deatt at 978-454-7663 and regarding Pittsfield call Brooke Mead at 413-445-4881).

As Election Day 2006 approaches, participants will shift to on-the-ground “Get Out The Vote” efforts, with the goal of turning out pro-immigrant voters in record numbers.  These activities will incorporate those same strengths in immigrant communities, such as media collaboration and the involvement of faith congregations that produced the historic mega-marches this past Spring.   Among the We Are America Alliance participants are organizations with extensive GOTV experience targeting diverse immigrant communities and native-born Americans who share core concerns in areas such as employment, education, and housing.

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