In this week’s State Action Alert, I’m proud to bring you examples of how immigrants across our country are standing up for their rights by participating in the political process and proving they are empowered.
While federal immigration reform efforts have slowed, local and state elections held this month show that Americans want the officials they elect to support immigrants.
Terry McAuliffe’s narrow victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial race came after his opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, spoke harshly against the immigrant community in his state. Many Latino voters stood up for immigrants when they cast their votes for governor, and both Latino and Asian Americans supported McAuliffe in large numbers. With a significant increase in foreign-born eligible voters, support for immigrants is nowhere close to being pushed under the rug.
In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie was re-elected with the support of nearly half of Latino voters in the state. Since 2009, Latino support for Christie has risen 18 points. This year’s campaign focused on gaining the support of New Americans, who account for almost 19 percent of the state’s registered voters, by backing immigration reform and a state initiative to provide in-state college tuition for Dreamers. Christie’s efforts paid off when he won a large victory in the November election.
New York City is home to the largest number of foreign-born voters of any American city. Estimates state that around 30 percent of voters in this month’s elections were born outside of the United States. Among other pro-immigrant stances and initiatives, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio spoke out against immigrant abuse in detention centers. The influence of immigrant voters was evident in de Blasio’s campaign and his electoral victory.
Beyond the major headlines of this year’s elections, Minneapolis made history by electing Abdi Warsame to its city council. Warsame is from Somalia and runs a tenant association that houses 4,000 residents from East Africa. By being elected as city councilor, Warsame will be the “highest elected Somali in the country.”
These victories are examples of the power of individuals and communities who stand up for migrants at the local level by exercising their political rights. The movement to fully support the rights of migrants and refugees is alive and well across the country, but it can only continue if we continue to act. For more information and action opportunities around immigration reform, please visit our Action Center.