Tag: immigrant voters

Long Lines Don't Stop Latino Voters in Southwest Detroit

DETROIT, MI – By Martina Guzman, FI2W Reporter

Undeterred by long lines, Latino voters in Southwest Detroit came out in droves today to cast their ballot for president.

“This is the election where Latinos are really going to count,” said 77-year-old Bill Ojeda, a Korean War veteran. Ojeda was a little shy about saying he voted for Obama, but quickly remarked that he liked Obama’s philosophy in dealing with global conflict.

“I don’t mind taking care of the world but I think we should take care of America first,” Ojeda said.

The unusually warm weather for November made voting seem like a community event. Neighbors exchanged friendly ‘hellos’ and asked each other about whom to vote for in local races. Latina mothers, grandmothers and first-time voters arrived together. Twenty-year-old Eliseo Fuentes was thrilled to be voting for the first time. He was well informed, articulate and said immigration is the most important issue for him.

“Neither candidate is talking about immigration,” he said. Ultimately, Fuentes made his decision based on who he though would be better equipped to handle America’s financial crisis. “We live here and we need someone who can take care of the economy now,” he said.


Vietnamese Voter in N.H.: ‘I’m Proud To Vote…In My Country A Lot Of Time Voting Was Fixed’

NASHUA, NH – By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, New England Ethnic News and FI2W

Election Day progresses without any major disruption. Early this morning, a lady was spotted wearing an Obama T-shirt close to the voting booth and was simply asked to cover it with her coat.

Foot traffic appears similar to that in all city wards, but things are expected to step up a bit at lunch hour.

Turnout of immigrant voters at polling places is steady. According to Census data, New Hampshire has 32,000 Latinos, and increasing Russian and Vietnamese populations.

“I feel great and proud to be able to vote. As an immigrant I fight my way to be where I am in this country,” said Kimberly Tau, a Vietnamese stay-at-home mom.

For Tau, a Nashua resident who migrated to the U.S. some 25 years ago, “this is the day you can truly stand for what you believe in.” This election season, she says, local issues matters as much as a national crisis. Tau says she truly believes that in American elections are fair because, “back in my country a lot of time voting was fixed”.

Immigrant Voters in South Florida: A Haitian-American Hoping for Change

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Macollvie Jean-Francois, Sun Sentinel reporter.

It’s an overcast, slightly chilly, dry day in South Florida: perfect voting weather, if the experts are correct.

Lines at precincts in the Fort Lauderdale area were long earlier in the day, when polls opened at 7 a.m. They have been moving, and speeding up as the morning progresses. The average wait has been about one to one and a half hours.

Cateline Hjardemaal, who is pregnant, said in Miramar she spent only about fifteen minutes in line, until poll workers noticed her jutting tummy.

“It was easy,” Hjardemaal, a Haitian-American, said. “I need a change. I hope [government programs] will be back to the way they were before. Today, everything is about cutting. They cut, cut everything.”

On Election Day, Feet In 2 Worlds Covers The Immigrant Vote

Ellis Island, by Laverrue.

As America votes Tuesday, we will bring you reports from polling places in immigrant and ethnic neighborhoods across the U.S.

Follow Election Day from the perspective of immigrant journalists in battleground states Florida and New Hampshire, as well as Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York.

  • We’ll tell you how the election is going for first-time voters.
  • We’ll cover efforts to make sure that voting goes smoothly in immigrant neighborhoods and that all the votes are counted.
  • We’ll report on the mood among Latino, Chinese, Haitian, Arab and South Asian voters as they cast their ballots in this historic election.
  • We’ll bring you photos of voting in immigrant communities across the country.

You can also listen to Election Day coverage by Feet in Two Worlds reporters on PRI’s The World and The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York Public Radio.

After a Campaign That Largely Ignored Them, Immigrant Voters Still Expect Results

Diego Graglia

Diego Graglia, blog editor

When it comes to politics, not all immigrants are created equal. While the 2008 presidential campaign saw intense efforts by both major candidates to seduce Hispanic voters, other ethnic groups did not receive comparable levels of attention.

But one thing foreign-born voters of all origins have in common is that they did not see the deep discussion many of them expected about what is going to happen to U.S. immigration laws under the next administration.

Immigration reform was more a political frisbee than a political football: rather than being tossed around by the campaigns, it sort of hovered over public discourse, dipping to ground level only on occasion. Most of the references to it came in front of immigrant audiences, especially in candidate interviews and commercials on Spanish-language media.

Hispanics received a lot of attention during this fall campaign because of their large numbers in four states once labeled battlegrounds: Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. Now, the three western states are considered to be leaning towards Barack Obama — and the Democratic candidate held a slight lead in most of the polls conducted in Florida in October. This is in no small part due to the high levels of support Obama has attracted among Hispanics in those states.

While those states saw a deluge of advertising in Spanish, Latinos in other regions were not catered to in such an intense manner. Most Hispanics in the U.S. live in states considered safe for one party or the other –New York and California on the Democratic side, Texas in the Republican column.

Latinos in non-battleground states did not miss much.



First-Generation Immigrant Voters: The ‘Weird Dichotomy’ of Being Puerto Rican

Feet In 2 Worlds senior producer Jocelyn Gonzales wraps up her video series on first-generation voters with an interview with Andrea Moya, who was born in Puerto Rico in 1986 and moved to New York four years ago to attend college.

Moya, who is originally from Guaynabo, works in film development in New York. In the video, she explains the particular relationship Puerto Ricans have with U.S. politics –“a weird dichotomy,” she calls it–, since only those who live in one of the fifty states are allowed to vote in American elections.

While Andrea’s family in the islands is interested in the U.S. elections, they cannot participate. At the same time, she is not voting in Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial election, but she plans to cast a vote for Barack Obama Tuesday. This will be the second presidential election she has participated in.


First Time, First Generation Voters: From Guyana, A Conservative Point of View

Feet in 2 Worlds senior producer Jocelyn Gonzales is interviewing first-time, first-generation voters — youngsters born to immigrant families who this year will formally take part in their first election.

In this new video, Jocelyn talks to Avinash Ramsadeen, a recent college grad from New York now working for Fox News online. His parents are originally from Guyana, a tiny South American country that, according to the CIA’s World Factbookachieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then … has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments.” Although it’s neighbors with Venezuela and Brazil, Guyana is not considered a Latin American nation since it was colonized by the Dutch and British. The main population groups are of black African and Indian heritage.

Ramsadeen, who grew up in Jamaica, Queens, says those earlier leftist Guyanese governments strongly influenced his parents into more conservative views, many of which he shares. Here, he talks about his and his parents’ involvement in U.S. elections, and about the issues that influenced his decision to support Republican candidate John McCain.

Voter Registration 101: How Do New Citizens Become Voters?

In the midst of the swirling allegations of fraudulent voter registrations, I thought it would be useful to explain how most of the nation’s immigrant citizens become legally registered voters. Federal authorities are investigating alleged voter registration fraud by the community group ACORN, and a controversial recent report warned of up to 2 million non-citizen immigrants voting nationwide.(Click here for more of Feet in 2 Worlds’ coverage of the report on non-citizen voters, released by a publishing house the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a hate group.)

Most immigrant rights groups focus their large-scale — and, by law, nonpartisan — voter registration efforts on ceremonies where immigrants officially become U.S. citizens. Concentrating on citizenship ceremonies ensures that the people who register to vote are citizens. The lion’s share of newly- naturalized U.S. citizens register to vote this way.

Registering to vote if you are not a U.S. citizen is a felony. This means that if you are an immigrant who isn’t a citizen and you register to vote, you are breaking federal law, and are subject to deportation.For this reason alone, immigrant rights groups are very careful to make sure they do not register non-U.S. citizens to vote.

The ceremonies themselves are huge and moving affairs where hundreds or occasionally thousands of immigrants become citizens after years of waiting to make their way through the quicksand of the legal immigration system.(Check out GOOD and Reason magazines’ recent charts, which outline just how many years this process takes – six to ten years in a best case scenario, twelve to twenty at its worst).Voter registration rates at citizenship ceremonies are typically very high: usually about 75-90% of new citizens choose to register, a rate higher than the 2006 national average of 68% of all citizens eligible to vote .



Anger Management: Outraged Immigrant Voters Could Make a Difference on November 4

If the presidential primaries are any indication, voter turnout on November 4 will be very heavy. Some electoral analysts believe this will be especially true in key ethnic communities, including among Latinos, who appear set to turn out in record numbers. At a recent Feet in Two Worlds town hall forum on “Deconstructing the Immigrant Vote,” political organizers and ethnic media journalists agreed that anger is among the most important factors motivating immigrant voters this year.


Journalist Pilar Marrero speaks at the forum on Deconstructing the Immigrant Vote at the New School. Josh Hoyt, Executive Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and journalist Aswini Anburajan were also on the panel.

“When an electorate gets angry they go out and vote,” said Feet in Two Worlds journalist Aswini Anburajan. “And it’s starting to mobilize people.”

According to Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), anti-immigrant laws and rhetoric have been “the driving force” pushing a growing number of Latino immigrants to become naturalized citizens. “It’s out of anger, it’s out of fear, and it’s out of the sense that if they become a citizen and vote it’s an act of self defense,” he said.

Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of NALEO responds to a story by Pilar Marrero on Latino ‘s who are becoming citizens so they can vote in this year’s election.

Speaking to an audience at The New School, where the forum was held, Vargas said Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform is also motivating Latino voters. “We saw it in 2006 when millions of people took to the streets of America demanding … immigration reform.” Vargas noted that many of the protesters in ’06 were teenagers who have since reached voting age. “We have now a new generation of Latino youth who have reached the age of 18 in a very politicized environment where their consciousness has been raised,” Vargas said. “They told us two years ago, ‘Today we march, tomorrow we vote.’ Well, tomorrow has arrived.”

It’s not just Hispanics who may vote out of anger. Asian American outrage over a racially charged remark by U.S. Senator George Allen of Virginia played a key role in his razor-thin loss to Democrat Jim Webb in 2006. Webb’s victory gave the Democrats control of the Senate for the first time since 1994. (more…)

Who Lost the Second Presidential Debate?

Answer: Immigrants and anyone interested in fixing the nation’s immigration system.

It’s now clear that immigration has replaced Social Security as the “third rail of American politics.” Touch it and you’re dead. The words “immigration” and “immigrants” were never mentioned in Tuesday night’s debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The candidates and their campaigns are maintaining a perfect record of not addressing this subject during the debates. But, as we have reported elsewhere, both campaigns have been running Spanish-language TV ads aimed at Latino voters that criticize and distort each other’s record on immigration reform.

While the candidates’ silence on this subject was notable, what was truly striking was that none of the questions posed by voters and moderator Tom Brokaw dealt with immigration. NBC’s Brokaw began the town hall-style debate by saying that “tens of thousands” of questions had been submitted by people across the country. It’s hard to believe that none of those questions dealt with the candidates’ proposals for dealing with the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US. It’s only a guess, but Brokaw and the team who culled the submitted queries, must have thought that immigration isn’t important enough for even one debate question.

So Obama and McCain got off the hook, and tens of millions of immigrants –both legal and undocumented – along with their children, neighbors and, yes, their employers and co-workers are still waiting to hear the two candidates compare and contrast their views on immigration reform. This, in an election year when immigrant and ethnic voters may prove pivotal in a number of battleground states.

During the presidential primaries former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney tried to use John McCain’s support for immigration reform as a wedge issue against the Arizona Senator. Romney’s strategy failed. But maybe he was more successful than most people believe. There is now a chill over the presidential campaign when it comes to talking openly about immigrants and immigration. Four weeks before Election Day no one – neither the candidates nor the mainstream media – seems willing to break the ice.