New Voter Data Should Be Wake-Up Call to Congressman Mark Kirk on Immigration Reform
Illinois Shows Significant Increase of Immigrant Voters
Today, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC,) a non- partisan national policy research organization, released a report, Latino and Asian Clout in the Voting Booth, which shows how the dramatic increase in immigrant voting over the last four years has changed the electoral map of the nation. These changes mean that both the Republican and Democratic Parties ignore issues such as immigration reform at their risk. The following is a statement by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR):
The Immigration Policy Center’s report, Latino and Asian Clout in the Voting Booth shows a dramatic 28.4% increase in the Latino vote and a 21.3% increase in the Asian vote nationally in the past four years, compared with a 0.5% increase in white voters. The report is based on newly released census data from the 2008 election cycle.
In Illinois there were 314,000 Latino voters this year, an increase of 7% over 2004. In addition there were 78,000 Asian voters in Illinois in 2008. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has conducted citizenship drives and voter registration campaigns across Illinois since 2004. Over the past four years ICIRR has registered 80,759 voters, and has directly assisted 40,860 immigrants to become U.S. citizens, now eligible to vote.
The importance of these numbers for the political landscape in Illinois is clear for Congressman Mark Kirk, who aspires to replace President Barack Obama as the junior Senator from Illinois. The last time a Republican beat a Democrat for U.S. Senator in Illinois it was the election of Senator Peter Fitzgerald in 1998, when he defeated Senator Carol Moseley Braun with only 50.3% of the total vote, or a margin of a mere 99,000 votes.
Congressman Kirk has an unfortunate record of anti-immigrant statements and votes. Given this history, the 2008 exit polls showed that only one in five Latinos and two of five Asians voted for Congressman Kirk in his own 10th District, where he had the advantage of eight years of incumbency. This means that the Congressman could wind up with a deficit of anywhere from 187,000 to 311,000 Latino and Asian votes in the November, 2010 elections, depending on turnout. Given the changed demographics of Illinois since 1998, this is a probable political death sentence.
ICIRR Executive Director Joshua Hoyt stated, “It has become clear in Illinois and nationally that immigration reform is a deal-breaking issue for immigrant voters. Significant groups of Latino voters delivered eight states to President Obama and the 14th and 11th Congressional Districts to Democrats in Illinois. We hope that the critical importance of workable solutions for our broken immigration system can be agreed upon by both Democrats and Republicans in our state, for the good of our whole nation.”