Republicans are trying to appeal to immigrants and people of color with a diverse cast of convention speakers. But Fi2W commentator Erwin de Leon says the GOP’s message is anti-immigrant.
Tag: immigrant voters
While Republicans worry about non-citizens voting fraudulently in the Presidential election, many immigrant advocates contend the bigger problem is the large number of eligible immigrants who are not registered to vote.
The Arizona Senatorial primary pitting incumbent John McCain and right-wing challenger J.D. Hayworth could become a test for the Republican Party’s future relationship with Latino voters.
CPAC 2010 illustrated the conundrum the immigration issue presents Republicans on the face of a growing Hispanic electorate.
On Election Day, the Feet In 2 Worlds team spread out to polling places in immigrant and ethnic neighborhoods across the U.S. to report on how foreign-born voters experienced this historic day.
Our contributors covered voting in battleground states Florida and New Hampshire, as well as Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York:
- Macollvie Jean-Francois reported on Haitian-Americans and other voters in South Florida. She talked to those who voted before Tuesday and then covered polling sites in the morning and in the afternoon.
- Aswini Anburajan went to Harlem in the morning: she met a man in his fifties voting for the first time, a woman who marched in Selma and a Senegalese immigrant, a Puerto Rican couple, and a Trinidadian immigrant. She then went by Union Square to record the palpable excitement in lower Manhattan, before heading to Jackson Heights, Queens. There she found a Babel tower of electoral interest, complaints of election law violations, and had an extraordinary sidewalk conversation with two Bangladeshis and an Argentinean outside the polls. She also went on the air on PRI’s The World and sent us audio interviews with voters.
- Eduardo A. de Oliveira reported from New Hampshire, where he talked to a Vietnamese voter, and also found time to interview Brazilians in Massachusetts. He also appeared on WNYC, New York Public Radio.
- Martina Guzman talked to Latino families who came out to vote in Southwest Detroit, met an African American man who had tried to vote for the first time in Louisiana in 1955, and in the evening she marveled at the predominantly black city’s raucous celebration of Barack Obama’s victory.
- Suman Raghunathan reported on immigrants having trouble voting in Astoria, Queens, and then met Filipino, Egyptian and Indian voters at a firehouse in Jersey City, New Jersey.
- Yan Tai reported on high levels of turnout among first-time and immigrant voters in Chinatown and on an Asian American group’s complaints about barriers to immigrant voting.
- Pilar Marrero reported from Latino neighborhoods in Chicago, where residents were excited with the possibility of a fellow Chicagoan being elected president.
- Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska talked to Polish voters in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who also came out in big numbers.
- John Rudolph wrapped it all up with news analysis of Obama’s place in history.
Diego Graglia, FI2W blog editor
Latin American immigrants became an important segment of the American electorate in this election, representing forty percent of the overall Hispanic vote, according to data released this afternoon by pro-immigrant organization America’s Voice.
Initial estimates indicate that about 10 million Hispanics voted in this election, maintaining their 8 percent share of the national electorate in a year in which more Americans voted than in previous contests. While the percentage was the same, the size of the Hispanic electorate increased considerably from the 7.6 million Latinos who cast their votes in 2004 and the almost six million who did so in 2000.
Mexicans, Dominicans, and immigrants from Central and South American countries “voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama for president,” according to pollster Sergio Bendixen, whose firm Bendixen and Associates conducted exit polls among Latino voters in Los Angeles and Miami. Bendixen said 78 percent of Latin American immigrant voters chose the Democratic candidate and 22 percent supported Republican John McCain.
Support for Obama was lower –61 percent– among U.S. born Hispanics, who were 50 percent of all Hispanic voters.
The remaining 10 percent of the Hispanic electorate is composed of two groups of non-immigrant Latinos: Cuban refugees and Puerto Rican U.S. citizens. While Puerto Ricans split 77 to 23 percent in favor of Obama, Bendixen reported, Cubans were the only subgroup to prefer John McCain, by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.
“Thirty-two percent of all Latin American immigrants who voted (in this election) were first-time voters,” Bendixen said today during a conference call with national media.
“There is no doubt that the immigration issue played a very important part in getting them involved in this presidential contest,” Bendixen added, indicating that the recent divisive immigration reform debate may well have energized many Latinos to vote this year, and helped Obama win the Presidency.
JERSEY CITY, NJ – Suman Raghunathan, FI2W consultant
At a fire house in Jersey City, Arab, Filipino, and South Asian voters voted in a steady stream as the early evening fog rolled in.
Several immigrants, longtime residents and US citizens for decades, felt compelled by this election to cast their first votes ever.
A couple, originally from India, voted today for the first time. The husband, in the U.S. for 27 years and a U.S. citizen since 1987, said he “felt good” after voting. He noted he had been following the presidential election and that “policies were very important to determine my choice for President.” He voted for Obama, and cited three specific issues that determined his vote: the economy (“Obama’s policies are good”), the candidates’ approaches (“his thoughts are high”), and foreign policy (“he’s better because he wants to end the war”).
Another longtime U.S. citizen originally from Egypt and a U.S. resident for over two decades wandered over to the polling site hoping to vote. Unfortunately, he had not registered in time to vote this year. He cited civil liberties as key to his reasons for voting. “Democrats are better – they stand for more freedom,” he said. He was so enthusiastic about Sen. Barack Obama that he was already hoping he would get re-elected. He also cited Sen. Obama’s foreign policy plans as central to why he preferred the junior Senator from Illinois. In particular, he supported Sen. Obama’s decision to diplomatically engage with Iran: “You have to sit down and talk.” He also approved of Sen. Obama’s promises to pull US troops out of Iraq.
Two immigrant voters noted their labor unions had urged them to vote for Sen. Barack Obama. One of them, a 26-year old elementary school teacher originally from Egypt who has been living in the U.S. for 10 years, sighed, “Once you press the lever, you don’t know what [the candidates] will do… I have to be responsible to give my answers to God.”
Reynaldo Manito, a 61-year old voter originally from the Philippines, proudly declared he “always voted straight Democrat”. Manito, a waiter at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, and a member of the Local 6 hotel and restaurant workers said he came to the US in 1980 and had been voting since 1995. In between drags on his cigarette, he described the difference between the major parties as follows, “Democrats are for the poor, and Republicans are for the rich.”
Even though New Hampshire’s immigrant population is growing rapidly, there are still relatively few immigrants living in the Granite State – site of the “first in the nation” presidential primary. On election day New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth took a rare look at immigrant voters in New Hampshire and around the nation with Feet In Two Worlds Executive Producer John Rudolph and Eduardo A. de Oliveira, a Brazilian journalist who writes for the Nashua Telegraph and New England Ethnic News.
Click here to listen to the interview.
Through Election Day, Feet in 2 Worlds reporter Aswini Anburajan interviewed voters from very different origins. She talked to a Polish first-time voter in Harlem, and then she interviewed two Bangladeshi men and an Argentinean woman in Jackson Heights, Queens. She even had time to make an appearance on PRI’s nationally syndicated show The World.
In the morning, Anburajan talked to Keith Shaka Daway, an immigrant voter from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Daway saw an eventual Obama victory as “a vindication” of his ancestors and the “freedom fighters” of the past. You can read more about him here and you can listen to him speaking on this audio clip:[audio:http://www.jocelyngonzales.net/FI2W/fi2w_KeithShaka.mp3]
Another interviewee was Carl Duck, an African American man in his fifties who voted today for the first time in his life. “It’s time to make a change,” he told Anburajan. You can listen to him on this clip:[audio:http://www.jocelyngonzales.net/FI2W/fi2w_CarlDuck.mp3]
Tamar Owens and her daughter Oprie, 7, were at the same polling place. “Its exciting to vote for a person that’s real. That’s real by heart by soul,” the mother said of Barack Obama. The kid, as you can hear on this audio interview, was also very enthusiastic:[audio:http://www.jocelyngonzales.net/FI2W/fi2w_Oprie.mp3]