Wisconsin-based organizations join the national, non-partisan New American Voters Campaign to ensure that everyone eligible to cast a vote in their state is able to do so this November
Milwaukee, WI — A new report released today by Voces de la Frontera, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), SEIU, SEIU Local 1 and SEIU Healthcare and the U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at the University of California San Diego reveals that nearly 21,000 newly naturalized Americans in Wisconsin, who naturalized between 2016 and 2020, could significantly influence the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections. This number is greater than the state’s 20,682-vote margin of victory in the 2020 presidential elections
This voting bloc, called New American Voters, is racially and ethnically diverse, multigenerational and geographically diverse, and majority female. Approximately 44 percent of this group are from Asia, 30 percent from the Americas, approximately 14 percent from Europe, and approximately 11 percent from the African continent. The findings are based on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization data from 2016 to 2020, as well as naturalization applications that the agency approved in 2021.
“Voces de la Frontera (Voces) welcomes the New American Voters Report which highlights the current and potential political power of naturalized US citizens in Wisconsin and nationally. Voces’ New American Program, has provided critical support for immigrant families since 2011, as a unique one-stop shop that helps permanent residents with every step of the process to achieve their dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. For far too long, Latinos and other immigrant populations have been targeted by hate-mongering politicians who scapegoat them to distract voters from their own failures to deliver for working people and the poor.” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera. “Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen is a powerful way to build an undeniable electoral force for immigrant and worker rights and to hold those we elect accountable. To date, Voces’ New American Program has helped over 1,000 students become U.S. citizens and gain a political voice through access to voting rights which allows individuals to have a say in the direction of their local communities, state, and country. As our organization grows and expands our citizenship services, we look forward to continuing to serve and empower the Latino and immigrant community and foster meaningful civic participation.”
Efrain Elias, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 1 said, “Our union represents over 50,000 janitors, security officers, higher education faculty, school custodians, food service workers, and many more who continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and keep our communities running. SEIU Local 1 members are of every race and from all walks of life across 11 cities and six states in the midwest including Wisconsin. Our members ensure buildings and airports are clean and safe for working families. They teach young adults and ensure their learning environment is sanitized, and provide our young children with a nutritious meal and more.
They are essential workers and so is their voice. That’s why SEIU Local 1 is so proud to be part of this effort to expand our democracy by ensuring that all people who contribute to our economy and have been on the frontlines as essential workers are also able to fully participate in our democracy and have the freedom to vote.”
Voter suppression and other systemic barriers keep many eligible New American Voters from exercising that right, both in Wisconsin, as well as other key electoral states. In many cases, growing backlogs at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have created delays in processing citizenship applications. For instance, there are 3,570 pending applications in USCIS’ offices in Wisconsin, with processing delays of up to 13.5 months. Access issues related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and language barriers have prevented many eligible voters from registering.
In response, Wisconsin-based organizations are joining the New American Voters 2022 Campaign, a non-partisan nationwide effort coordinated by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) to encourage newly naturalized citizens to register and vote.
“There are an estimated 5.19 million New American Voters — including nearly 21,000 in Wisconsin — who have naturalized in recent years, who can significantly sway the 2022 midterm results. This is a powerful political force, but it is not monolithic. A variety of issues will be mobilizing them to the polls, their votes informed by diverse political ideologies, experiences, and backgrounds. Ensuring that these voters both register and vote is critical to ensuring a participatory, representative democracy,” said Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of NPNA. “We’re proud to team with partners in Wisconsin and across the country to encourage civic engagement and promote a democracy that protects, represents, and works for all of us.”
State data comes from a new national report published by NPNA, SEIU, APIAVote, and USIPC. The findings are based on USCIS data on naturalization from 2016 to 2020, as well as naturalization applications that the agency approved in 2021. Topline data include:
- Wisconsin ranks 7th in the nation according to the New American Voters Impact Model, which showcases the potential of this critical voting bloc to influence the outcome of midterm elections in 50 states.
- Approximately 65 percent of newly naturalized citizens are below the age of 45 and more than 53 percent were women.
- The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area, which includes Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, has the highest concentration of naturalized citizens, at over 960,000, followed by the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area, which includes Wisconsin and Minnesota, with over 250,000, and then the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metropolitan area with approximately 74,000.
Voces de la Frontera has been Wisconsin’s leading immigrant rights organization for more than 20 years. Voces is a membership-based community organization led by low-wage workers, immigrants, and youth whose mission is to protect and expand civil rights and workers’ rights through leadership development, community organizing, and political empowerment. Learn more at www.vdlf.org.
SEIU Local 1 Unites 50,000 working people throughout the Midwest including janitors, security officers, higher education faculty, school custodians, food service workers and more. Local 1 is the founding Local of the Service Employees International Union and was started in Chicago in 1904 by residential maintenance workers. Learn more at: www.seiu1.org
SEIU Wisconsin State Council – Representing over 10,000 health care, public sector+property services employees in WI, SEIU WI State Council coordinates our locals’ legislative+political programs. Learn more at: http://www.seiuwi.org/
The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic, multiracial organization that represents 60 of the largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 40 states. Its members provide large-scale services for the communities, to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. Learn more at partnershipfornewamericans.org.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. Learn more at www.seiu.org
The U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at UC San Diego conducts and supports rigorous social science research to advance understanding of the foundations and consequences of U.S. immigration policy. Immigration has played an integral role in American history and is sure to feature prominently in America’s future. But what should the immigration policies of our nation of immigrants be? The USIPC brings together leading academics, policy analysts, immigrant rights leaders, and policymakers across all levels of government to conceptualize, debate, and design a new U.S. immigration policy agenda that meets the demands of the 21st century. Learn more at https://usipc.ucsd.edu/