Young Second-Generation American Immigrants

With the presidential election approaching, a lot of attention has been focused on the Latino vote yet little attention has been given to the immigrant vote overall and even less to the growing bloc of voters who are the U.S.-born children of immigrants. Although many of these children are still too young, more and more of them will come of voting age in future elections, meaning that political candidates will be forced to take notice. At the time of the last presidential election in 2008 only 5% of the U.S. citizens aged 45-54 had an immigrant parent. But the share with an immigrant parent was one-fifth (20%) among U.S. citizens under the age of 18. The yet un-realized electoral potential of the children of immigrants is enormous.

In California, for example, 47% of U.S. citizens under the age of 18 had an immigrant parent in 2010, while more than 30% did in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, and Texas, and 27% in Florida. And while the interests of these voters will be similar to those of the general population, they will be particularly aware of policies and rhetoric around immigration as it impacts their families directly. More and more second-generation Americans are moving into adulthood each year, and as this trend continues, we can expect that more and more voters will be turned off by the anti-immigrant rhetoric that many political candidates utilize and even wrongfully pride themselves on. There is a new wave of voters coming that politicians must be ready to respond to if they want to keep their office.

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