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Immigrant Political Incorporation

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Immigrant Political Incorporation

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  1. Immigrant Political Incorporation Political Science 126C / Chicano/Latino Studies 163 Lecture 8 February 3, 2009

  2. Essay Assignment – Due Feb. 12 • For students assigned to policy areas: In the Congressional debates on immigration from 2005 to the present, what are the most important policy proposals related to your policy area? How did Congress react to these policy proposals when it debated immigration in this period?

  3. Essay Assignment – Due Feb. 12 • For students assigned to interest groups: In the Congressional debates on immigration from 2005 to the present, what specific policy proposals guided your interest group’s efforts in the immigration reform debates? How did Congress react to these policy proposals when it debated immigration in this period?

  4. Themes for Today • Naturalization (from last week) • Immigrant political incorporation

  5. Naturalization by Decade

  6. Naturalizations 1981-2006

  7. Why The Fluctuations? • Naturalization-eligible immigrants respond to incentives and resources • Incentives • Changes in the law that shape immigrant rights and opportunities • Changes in the attitude toward immigrants • Resources • Government promotion of naturalization (mid 1990s) • Community-based organizational efforts to promote naturalization

  8. Naturalization in the Coming Years • Currently, • 8.5 million citizenship-eligible immigrants • Pool increases each year with newly eligible; increase at roughly the rate of new applications • Pool can diminish • Will require a national investment from immigrant advocacy community • Immigrant-serving organizations must make naturalization assistance continuous • Congress could simply naturalization (unlikely in period of anti-immigrant fervor)

  9. Other State Immigrant Incorporation Policies/Practices • States • Public (K-12) education • Language • Civics • Adult education • Professional licensing • General findings • Immigrants (and particularly their children) adopting U.S. cultural practices and values • Except for language, the adoption is not linear • Variation by nationality, status at entry, immigrant education, and experiences of co-ethnics in the United States

  10. Themes for Today • Naturalization (from last week) • Immigrant political incorporation

  11. Critical Period in U.S. Immigrant Civic/Political Incorporation • Rapid growth in immigration since 1980 • Surge in demand for naturalization • 15 percent of new citizens are adults who naturalize • Maturation of second generation • New legalization program will emerge (at some point) • Two paths – different U.S. political futures • Incremental incorporation • Emergence of immigrant/ethnic political underclass, requiring more affirmative state efforts at mobilization down the road

  12. Venues for Immigrant Civic/Political Participation • Naturalization • Civic and community engagement • Politics open to immigrants regardless of status • Electoral behavior • Hard to distinguish immigrant preferences from those of U.S-born co-ethnics

  13. 1) Naturalization • Fundamentally political (though often viewed instrumentally) • Transfer or addition of new formal political loyalty • Political rights nearly comparable to U.S.-born • Voluntary in U.S. • State does little to encourage • Assistance – to the extent that it exists – from civil society organizations and local governments

  14. Many Eligible Immigrants Don’t Naturalize • Statutory bars • Recent immigration • Criminality • Public charge • Language / civic knowledge • Structural impediments • Complexity of application form • Cost • Absence of community-level support • Confusion about consequences of failure

  15. Consequence • Class / education bias in immigrants who naturalize (and are eligible to vote) • Other reliable predictors • Proximity to U.S. decreases odds of naturalization • Longer residence and English skills at migration are positive predictors

  16. 2) Civic and Community Engagement • Immigrants engage the civic and political lives of their communities of destination, often without realizing it • Not surprisingly, levels of engagement vary by time/energy/skill requirements • 80 percent of Latino immigrants follow politics in the news • 2 percent of Asian American immigrants heave served on a government board or commission

  17. Structural Barrier to Immigrant Participation • Immigrants less likely than U.S.-born to be mobilized by political institutions (parties, candidates, community organizations) • Lack of familiarity with immigrant communities • Lower return rate for outreach in immigrant communities

  18. 3) Electoral Participation • In U.S., few jurisdictions allow non-citizens to vote • Not always the case • Some efforts to disconnect connection between citizenship and voting • Overall, immigrants register and vote at lower rates than U.S. born • Exception – Naturalized Asian Americans and Latinos

  19. Registration and Voting, by Race/Ethnicity and Nativity, 2004 Registered to Vote Voted U.S. born Naturalized U.S. born Naturalized % % % % All races 70.2 58.1 60.0 50.6 Non-Hispanic White 75.3 68.2 67.3 61.8 Black 69.1 61.8 60.4 54.4 Hispanic 47.1 54.6 40.5 46.4 Asian 57.1 60.0 45.5 52.1

  20. Immigrant Voting Changing the Partisan Balance • Naturalized citizens solidly Democratic • No nationally reliable data, so I use ethnic vote as a surrogate • 28 percent of Latino voters immigrant (2004) • 60 percent of Asian American voters immigrant (2004) • Latino support for Obama – 67 to 31 • Asian American support for Obama – 62 to 35 • Asian American support for the Democrats has grown steadily since 1992 • “Ethnic” adult citizen population growing much more rapidly than Anglo adult citizen population • Latinos +22.2%, Asian Americans +32.9%, Anglo +2.4%

  21. Growing Numbers No Guarantee of Influence • Immigrant/ethnic participation rates lower • Most districts have Anglo electoral majorities • Consequence – coalition politics required in many cases • Shared issue preferences at the local level facilitate coalitions • Successful example – 2005 Los Angeles mayoral race

  22. Summary • U.S. immigrants on path to incremental incorporation • Good news – immigrants and their children not a political underclass • Can look to specific tangible victories • Have confidence to exercise voice – 2006 immigrant rights protests • Bad news – will replicate class and education bias in American politics • Ultimate test – second generation • Just now aging into political maturity