Newly Naturalized New Mexico Can Sway the Outcome of 2020 Election, Somos, El CENTRO and NPNA Report Finds
A report release today sheds light on the potential impact of newly naturalized citizens on national, state, and local elections
New Mexico – Around 18,000 people have naturalized in New Mexico since 2014, according to a report released today by El CENTRO Poder y Acción, El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos’ new sister 501c4 advocacy organization in Albuquerque, Somos Acción, the 501c4 sister organization to Somos un Pueblo Unido in New Mexico, CAFé Acción, sister organization to NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe in Las Cruces, and National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). These new citizens and potential voters, the majority of whom are women and originally from Mexico, can make an outsized impact on local and congressional elections, where margins are tight.
“Somos has worked tirelessly to influence New Mexico’s political environment on immigrant and worker’s rights issues, and we have helped hundreds of members from our community naturalize and become politically active,” said Zulema Chavero with Somos Acción. “It is essential that naturalized citizens vote, especially in rural communities where immigrants can make a difference in the outcome of state and Congressional elections.”
New Mexico’s naturalized citizens are a part of the estimated 5 million individuals across the country that have naturalized since 2014. Of this group, around three million naturalized after Donald Trump’s election, making them one of the most significant electoral groups in recent U.S. history. The national New American Voters report analyzed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data on naturalizations from fiscal years 2014 to 2018, applications approved in fiscal year 2019, and estimates for 2020, based on spikes of naturalization before the 2016 presidential election. Despite the mismanagement of USCIS and its backlog of over 700,000 citizenship applications serving as a voter suppression tool, approximately 5 million newly naturalized citizens can sway the outcome of this years’ presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial elections.
“This is such an important election because we need leaders that support our families and community,” said Elizabeth Hernandez of Somos Acción who recently became a citizen and will vote for the first time in the 2020 general election. “The decisions of these political leaders impact our daily lives and we cannot afford not to vote in this election. There are many issues that need to be taken care of such as health care, sick leave and economic relief for everyone impacted by COVID-19, including immigrant families.”
The New Mexico report includes the following top lines on New Mexico’s new American population:
- New Mexico ranks 15th as the state in which new citizens can have the greatest influence, according to the New American Voters Impact Model, created by the NPNA.
- In New Mexico, the largest numbers of naturalized citizens from 2014 to 2018 were originally from Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cuba.
- New Mexico county breakdown: while naturalized citizens largely reside in Bernalillo and Doña Ana county, they also have large concentrations in more rural counties like Chaves, Lea, Otero, Curry, Luna, Los Alamos, and Taos
- Age & gender breakdown: 57% of New Americans are women, and around half of New Americans were under the age of 45 years old when they naturalized.
“The past four years and the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed and exacerbated existing racial, social, and economic inequities, and by turning out our communities to vote through El CENTRO’s non-partisan “Nuestro Voto Cuenta” campaign, we have the opportunity to elect politicians that support the issues that are important to our communities — from economic relief, to dignified wages, paid sick leave, healthcare, to immigration policies that keep our families together,” stated Fabiola Landeros, a new citizen voter and community organizer with El CENTRO Poder y Accion.
This effort is part of Somos Acción, El CENTRO Poder y Acción and NPNA’s New American Voters 2020 campaign. This is a national campaign which promotes voting among newly naturalized Americans, and includes the participation of NPNA member organizations such as Somos and El Centro, as well as national partners, mayors, city governments, and influencers to lift up the importance of voting for naturalized citizens.
“This a multi-racial, multi-generational voting bloc that represents a powerful political force in the upcoming elections. At a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are high in our country, these New Americans Voters can raise their voices and sway the outcome of elections for the White House and Senate, governorships, and state legislatures. The first step to exercising that power is to register and vote. NPNA is proud to join with Somos Acción and El CENTRO Poder y Acción today as they work across New Mexico to encourage New Americans to exercise the most influential democratic action a citizen can take, which is voting,” said Nancy Flores, NPNA deputy director.
Access the full the national New American Voters report from NPNA report.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido, founded in 1995, is a statewide community-based and immigrant-led organization that promotes worker and racial justice. With an active membership of 2,500 people in eight counties, Somos: Offers community education about rights and remedies; forges leadership opportunities for immigrants and low-wage workers; provides legal services to wage theft victims and initiates impact litigation to defend worker’s rights; engages Latinos in the political and electoral process; and leads and supports grassroots campaigns for local and national policies that strengthen our communities
Somos Acción, is a statewide 501C4 organization formed in 2018, that advocates for civil rights, higher wages, better working conditions and expanded job opportunities for workers and families. A sister organization to Somos Un Pueblo Unido. Somos Acción educates and mobilizes voters to grow power in our community.
El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos (El CENTRO) is a grassroots, immigrants’ rights, civil rights and workers’ justice organization based in Albuquerque with over 5500 members, the majority of whom are low-wage Latinx immigrant workers and their families. We utilize multiple strategies to impact systemic change and grow the power of immigrant families and low-wage workers including grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy advocacy, voter engagement, and communications to impact the issue environment. El CENTRO Poder y Acción is a newly formed 501c4 that focuses on advocacy and voter education and mobilization.
NM CAFe is the largest grassroots, faith based community organizing effort in Southern NM. We believe that our base is made up of directly impacted people, people of faith deeply rooted in justice and each other, who will lead the fight to shift New Mexico policies. CAFé aspires to create a culture of support that empowers New Mexicans to act on their own behalf towards a better quality of life. NM CAFé has been a crucial actor in the political landscape in southern New Mexico since 2009, creating a “land of opportunity” by challenging our elected leaders to put the needs of families and the common good of New Mexico first
CAFé Accion, a sister organization to NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (CAFe), is a newly formed 501c4 grassroots organization working to build independent political power for immigrant and working families across Southern New Mexico. “CAFe Accion recognizes the power of community organizing, we are also very clear that immigrant and Latinx communities play a critical role in shaping New Mexico politics. Our members are ready to engage in the political process and ensure our immigrant families are well represented in Congress.” – Johana Bencomo, Director of CAFe Accion
The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic, multiracial organization that represents 39 of the largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 35 states. Its members provide large-scale services for the communities, to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. More information about the New American Voters 2020 campaign is available at http://newamericanvoters2020.org