Local organizations join the national, non-partisan 2022 New American Voters Campaign to ensure that everyone eligible to cast a vote in Pennsylvania is able to do so this November
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Oct 25th, 2022
- Mynellies Negrón | (703) 585-6727 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emily L. Walker | (610) 698- 0063 | EWalker@seiu32bj.org
Video material from today’s press conference is available HERE
Harrisburg, PA — Pennsylvania is home to 85,083 newly naturalized U.S. citizens that are eligible to vote in critical 2022 midterms, a number greater than the state’s 80,555-vote margin of victory in the 2020 presidential elections, according to new data released today by Make The Road, the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), SEIU 32BJ, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at the University of California San Diego.
This bloc of potential voters — called New American Voters — is multiracial, multigenerational, geographically diverse, and majority female. They hold varying ideologies and viewpoints, and will be motivated by a variety of issues this November.
“Voting for candidates in Pennsylvania that ensure our union and worker rights are protected, our freedom to exercise our right to vote is protected, and that the choices we make about our own bodies are protected is more important than ever. At SEIU 32BJ, we are so proud to represent diverse workers who speak a multitude of languages and came to this country and this commonwealth for a good life for themselves and their families,” said Daisy Cruz, SEIU 32BJ District Leader for the Mid-Atlantic District. “They know the benefits of union life, and the importance of electing candidates who support their values, too. Let’s preserve the freedoms we have in Pennsylvania and get all those eligible out to vote,” she added.
Voter suppression and other systemic barriers keep many eligible New American Voters from exercising that right. Growing backlogs at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have created delays in processing citizenship applications: There are more than 20,000 pending in USCIS’ two offices in Pennsylvania, with processing delays of up to 14 months. Access issues related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and language barriers have prevented many eligible voters from registering.
In response, Pennsylvania-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.
“The 2022 midterms could see an estimated 5.19 million New American Voters — including more than 85,000 in Pennsylvania— who have naturalized in recent years. This voting bloc represents a powerful political force, but is not monolithic. They’ll be drawn to the polls by a variety of issues, 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 across the country to encourage civic engagement and promote a democracy that protects, represents, and works for all of us.”
“Today, we celebrate immigrants exercising their political voice by voting. For me personally, highlighting the value and importance of immigrants participating in America’s democracy has taken an even deeper meaning in these times, where immigrants are scapegoated and demonized by some politicians. My father, an immigrant from Korea, came to Pennsylvania over 50 years ago to work for the railroads and it was the beginning of my family’s American story.” said Andy Kang, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition (PICC). “Growing up, he would always take me to the polling place with him and my parents conveyed to me the importance for all, including new Americans, to participate in our nation’s democracy. That is why I’m proud that PICC has had a long history of registering to vote newly-sworn in citizens and we will continue to do all we can to spread the message that Pennsylvania – and America – needs immigrants to vote and help us strengthen our democracy.”
“I became a citizen only 4 months ago. I couldn’t do it sooner because of the discrimination and language barriers that exist in this country for people of color like myself. I am going to vote for the first time this November 8th and I am very excited to be able to participate in the political process, it is my right and it is my voice!” said Milagros Castillo, Make the Road PA member. Make the Road registered 7,000 people to vote this year.
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:
- Pennsylvania ranks 4th 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.
- Newly naturalized citizens in Pennsylvania are racially and ethnically diverse, with 45 percent from Asia, 27 percent from the Americas, 15 percent from the African continent, and 13 percent from Europe.
- Approximately 63 percent of newly naturalized citizens are below the age of 45 and more than 54 percent are women.
- The New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area, which includes Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, has the highest concentration of naturalized citizens, at 3.8 million, followed by the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey, with over 440,000, and then the Pittsburgh metropolitan area with approximately 52,000.
The Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) is a diverse coalition of over 50 member organizations across the state. PICC leads and supports campaigns to advance immigrant rights at the local, state, and federal levels; builds immigrant electoral power through voter registration and education; supports grassroots community-led organizations through training and capacity building; and helps increase access to immigration services through the PA is Ready! Project. Learn more at http://paimmigrant.org/.
Make the Road Pennsylvania works to build power for justice in Latinx, immigrant communities and working-class communities of color. Make the Road empowers community members to be the principal agents and leaders in challenging and dismantling systemic oppression through community organizing, policy innovation and transformative education. Learn more at www.maketheroadpa.org
SEIU 32BJ – with more than 175,000 members, we are the largest union of property service workers in the U.S. We are concentrated in the Northeast – in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. – but our reach extends to southern Florida. We work primarily as cleaners, property maintenance workers, doormen, security officers, window cleaners, building engineers, and school and food service workers, and airport workers. Learn More at www.seiu32bj.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/