Voting: A healthy democracy includes opportunities for all to participate in civic life.

Insights and Analyses

  • About 23 million immigrants, or 10% all U.S. eligible voters, will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election, with a large share living in California.
  • California’s immigrants are civically engaged: 56% of immigrants currently registered to vote cast ballots in the 2018 midterm election.
  • Immigrant voters comprise 25% of all currently registered voters, meaning over 3.6 million immigrant citizens across California are currently registered to vote in 2020.
  • In light of the pandemic, the halt in interviews and oath ceremonies for immigrants waiting to naturalize will impact their right to vote in the 2020 election. Boundless estimates that every day that U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices remain closed, about 2,100 immigrants waiting to naturalize will run out of time to vote in the 2020 presidential election.

The Immigrant Justice Fellowship is training the next generation of advocates and leaders to defend immigrant communities. 

In 2018, the Dream Resource Center, a project of the UCLA Labor Center, launched the Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF). The purpose of the fellowship is to center the voices and direct experiences of undocumented immigrant youth in the immigrant rights movement, protect and defend immigrant communities from mass detention and deportation, and create a welcoming, healthy, and just society for immigrants. The program places each fellow in a non-profit organization for eight months to engage in local immigrant rights advocacy, develop as leaders, and contribute to changing anti-immigrant rhetoric. While gaining professional and organizing experience, fellows receive a monthly fellowship award. In its third year, IJF will become a full-time, yearlong fellowship. Young immigrant fellows will be placed in the following regions and organizations: Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative in Fresno, Black Alliance for Just Immigration & Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice in the Inland Empire, Resilience OC in Orange County, and the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans in San Diego. To learn more about IJF and fellows’ experiences, visit the site here.

Photo credit: Dream Resource Center

Proposition N, approved in 2016, sets San Francisco apart as the only city in the state to allow undocumented parents and guardians to vote in local school board elections.

Although non-citizen voting (NCV) is not a new concept, few cities across the nation have implemented NCV to the extent that San Francisco has, including all residents regardless of legal status with children under the age of 19, to participate. Speaking to the importance of the incorporation of immigrant voices in the community, in an article by the SF Gate, director of advocacy for Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), Hong Mei Pang stated, “’Democracy belongs to people who live, work, and go to school in their communities and immigrants are such a key part of the fabric of our city.’” Led by CAA, the Immigrant Parent Voting Collaborative (IPVC), a multi-racial coalition, provides trainings, workshops, and brochures to non-citizen voters on their rights and possible risks associated with voting. Leading up to the 2018 elections, IPVC worked with the San Francisco Department of Elections to safeguard the privacy of undocumented voters by including a notice on the ballot around voting risks, creating separate ballots and rosters tailored to non-citizen voters, and training poll workers. Trained poll workers referred to non-citizen voters as EDU voters, to distinguish their vote for the school board elections. To learn more about expanding civic participation in SF and the organizations involved in this work, read here. To learn more about the history of non-citizen voting, read here.

Photo credit: Chinese for Affirmative Action

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