New Jersey has 177,890 newly naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote in the 2022 general election that could play a critical role in determining key races, according to a report from Make the Road New Jersey, New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, New Jersey Working Families Party, SEIU 32BJ and other advocacy group.
New American voters are described as “multiracial, multigenerational, geographically diverse, and majority female.”
But New Americans are not necessarily Democrats or Republicans, liberal or conservative, or single-issue voters.
“This voting bloc represents a powerful political force, but is not monolithic,” said Nicole Melaku, the executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans. “They’ll be drawn to the polls by a variety of issues, their votes informed by diverse political ideologies, experiences, and backgrounds.”
According to an analysis from the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California San Diego, 44% of New Jersey’s recently naturalized citizens come from the Americas, 36% from Asia, 11% from Europe – immigrants from Portugal are considered European by the U.S. Census Bureau- — and 9% from the African continent, which includes Egypt.
Of the 77,969 New Americans from the Americas, 19,300 are from the Dominican Republic, 8,646 came from Colombia, 7,012 from Ecuador, and 6,264 from Peru. An additional 1,102 Canadians and 3,615 Mexicans have emigrated to New Jersey
Among the 63,996 people who emigrated from Asia, 27,473 are from India, 7832 from the Philippines, 5,351 came from South Korea, and 5,018 from China.
Newly naturalized citizens from Europe – a total of 19,314 – included 3,723 from Poland, 2,013 who came from Portugal, and 1,842 who emigrated from the United Kingdom.
Egypt accounted for 5,290 New Americans.
“As a new citizen voter in a swing district, I’m looking for leaders that will fight for good jobs and keep our immigrant neighbors and families safe, not handouts to corporations and a politics of hate and division,” said Eva Salcedo of Make the Road New Jersey and a resident of the hugely competitive 7th congressional district. “Hundreds of thousands of new citizens in New Jersey like me are ready to make our voices heard at the ballot box this November. time to recognize our power.”
The National Partnership for New Americans and other groups are launching a voter registration campaign to maximize participation of newly naturalized New Jersey residents for the November general election.
“Registering new citizens at naturalization ceremonies is a core League of Women Voters program,” said Jesse Burns, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.
Burns said that the pandemic has “hampered these efforts, making it more difficult to register new citizens and to ensure that they get the necessary follow-up outreach designed to drive turnout.”
Kevin Brown, the executive vice president and New Jersey state director of SEIU 32BJ, said that new citizens can “support for candidates who will advance our common objective — to better the lives of working people and our families.”
“Voting is our right, our privilege, and most importantly our responsibility. It is the tool we use to express our will within the democratic process. That is especially important in a critical midterm election like the one we are facing,” said Brown. “In New Jersey, we have an exciting opportunity to engage newly naturalized citizens to become part of this process and raise their voice at the polls.”
The voter registration deadline in October 18.
“In 2016 and 2010, naturalized citizens were less likely to vote than U.S.-born citizens, but that difference disappeared once they had good access to voter registration resources and outreach,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. So, to the extent that our state and many of these groups are focused on providing that access, New Jersey’s naturalized citizens may be as likely to vote as other voters.”
Rasmussen believes New Americans could decide some closely-watched fall races.
The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice was also part of the study.
“This new report provides crucial data about new citizens, who are core members of New Jersey’s diverse community with enormous power to participate in its democracy,” said Henal Patel, director of the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “It is crucial that as we consider the needs of new citizens as voters, we work to tear down the barriers they face. “
Patel also made a pitch for voting reforms.
“We must pass same-day registration so they are not subject to our arbitrary voter registration deadline and a strong John Lewis Voting Rights Act that includes language access provisions,” she said.
The study looked at newly naturalized citizens from 2016 through 2020.Origin New American Voter Report 2022