printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The New Face of America: How Growing Minority Populations Affect U.S. Politics and Public Policy

Audrey Singer, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution
Washington, DC
April 29, 2013




2:30 P.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MODERATOR: Welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. Today, we’re very happy to host Audrey Singer, who is a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution, and she’s going to brief about: The New Face of America: How Growing Minority Populations Affect U.S. Politics and Public Policy. Her opinions are not those of the State Department, but her own. Thank you.

Audrey.

MS. SINGER: Thanks, Miriam. Afternoon, everybody, happy to be here. It stopped raining, by the way, if you haven’t been outside.

So I want to talk a little bit broadly about the changing demographics of the United States. I was trained as a demographer and I specialize in immigration, so these two things have really come together recently when we think about what’s happened with changing our immigration laws and how that has been affected by the last presidential election in November. It’s raised a lot of questions for people: How are we changing; how should we be changing; how should we change our immigration laws?

So let me just start with a broad point of view. Over time – so in the last four decades, the U.S. has sustained very high levels of immigration. In the 20th century, this has varied somewhat, so in the early part of the 20th century, there are some classic images of immigrants from mostly European countries coming to the cities in the United States and working in factories and living in dense neighborhoods, and we can think of those images very clearly in our minds.

During the middle of the 20th century, the U.S. experienced the baby boom, high numbers of births to families in the U.S., and very low levels of immigration at that time. So things had been curtailed. In fact, in 1970, the United States was almost entirely native-born, and the immigrants that were living there were mostly from previous wave of immigration. But by the end of the 20th century, immigration had picked up again, starting in the – a bit in the ’70s, picking up speed in the ’80s. In the ’90s, particularly the second half of the 1990s, we saw a lot of immigration in this country, and that’s continued into the 21st century.

And so there’s a lot of changes that come with that, changes from – including the source countries of immigrations, from European to largely Latin American and Asian in the current couple of decades, and changes in the settlement patterns of immigrants throughout the United States. So they used to be very concentrated in New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami, places like that. Now, we have immigrants in many, many communities across the United States, many of them with little or no experience of immigration and immigrant integration into the social, economic, civic, and political life of those places in this country. A lot of my work addresses those issues: changing patterns of settlement; the new places immigrants are going to; the shifts from cities to suburbs and what that does to institutions in suburban areas like schools and healthcare systems, political systems; and also what the response has been at the local level and at the national level.

So you’ve all probably heard that we’re in the middle of thinking about changing our immigration laws. There’s – the Senate has proposed a bill in the last couple of weeks, and there’s a lot of talk about the chances for the U.S. changing its immigration laws and how those have seemingly changed overnight, and the night was Election Night, the presidential election night, November 6th, I think it was, in 2012. So the results of that election have motivated many people, particularly Republicans, to think about how to change immigration laws.

Now, that’s the kind of cold political calculation that’s going on, but to be fair, immigration law and talk of changing our laws has been going on for quite a while. We haven’t changed in any fundamental way our immigration laws since 1990, when we changed our admissions system pretty substantially, and 1986, when we had a legalization program that legalized about 3 million people who were living here without status. So it’s been almost 25 years since we’ve changed our admission system and longer since we had a legalization program.

But I will say that over that period of time, the source countries of immigration continue to change based on different patterns and different places in the world having their own economic, political conflicts and other challenges that tend to send people to the U.S. So we now see a call for changing our immigration laws, and the emphasis now is on a shift towards economic reasons. So how can we change our immigration laws to better fit our economic needs going forward?

And we have a demographic situation, for lack of a better word, where we are right now. We’re an aging society. We will continue to age very rapidly. The baby boom generation that was born after World War II up until about 1964 has just started to turn 65. So we have about 79 million people who are going to become senior citizens – seniors, I guess we call them. That started about a year or two ago. Seventy-nine million coming through over the next several generations.

So where – you’re going to see our elderly population spike, which has huge implications for our labor force. At the same time, our birthrates have gone down over time since the baby boom. And the ratio of seniors to children, for example, has gone – well, going back to 1900, 40 percent of the population was under the age of 18, and only 4 percent were 65 and over. In 2010, 24 percent were children and 13 percent were seniors. And so this ratio of workers to the dependent population, those two segments of the population is getting smaller. And it’s projected that by 2030 there will be one and a quarter kid for every senior. So we’re almost going to reach parity in those two populations. Tremendous implications for our labor force.

Immigrants by and large come to this country to work, and so the majority of them are in the working-age population. And most of them, when they have children, are having them in the United States. And those children are U.S. citizens, and that has implications for their trajectories in the United States as well.

So we’ve got an aging population. We’ve got a continuance of growth in the younger population mostly through immigration and that has changed the composition of the United States in big ways. So in this country, for better or force worse, we have very few race and ethnic categories, but we have a lot of people that make up those categories, so we talk about white, black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, and other groups. And embedded in Asia, for example, huge number of source countries from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and so forth. Hispanic or Latino, that category also encompasses many countries, many source countries to the United States, the largest one being Mexico.

So when we talk about the sort of non-white population, it includes all of these strands coming together, and it includes people who were born outside of the United States and born in the United States. So you can be Hispanic and be born in the U.S.; you can be Hispanic and have come from abroad. That’s sort of the nature of the definitions that we use here. And the reason why I bring that up is because when we look at the projections going forward to the next generation, we use those categories to try to understand what the changing face of America will look like, knowing that these are very diverse populations in and of themselves, and knowing that those categories may be meaningless in 25 years, honestly.

So we’ve got the demographic momentum going now. That means that within a very short period of time this country will go from being majority white to majority non-white. And you’ve probably heard some of those projections. I have one on me right here that I want to make sure I mention. But it’s on a piece of paper that is not directly in front of me right now. I’m sure I left that piece of paper by the printer, but let me just tell you what I know.

So about 17 percent of the population right now is Latino, about 5 percent is Asian, about 13 percent is black, and the rest are white and then there’s a small proportion that are these other categories that I’m not mentioning. But the big ones are Hispanic, white, black, Asian. And we see growth of the fastest growing – and the youngest population by far is the Hispanic segment of the population. And it’s projected that they will be about 29 percent of the population by 2050. Asians will be about 9 percent of the population in that year. Whites will be about 47 percent. Blacks will be – off the top of my head I can’t quite remember, but I think it’s still around 13 percent of the population. If somebody can do the math on that, that would help. But I just – I lost that piece of paper on the way over.

So I think what’s important to note there is that the changes will happen swiftly and they impact a lot of different forces and institutions on the ground. And we can talk about that through your questions. I won’t go into that right now.

So another thing that I think this group is interested in is how the last election changed things and what that means, what the prospects for immigration reform are, and what that means going forward. And what we know is in the last election, the Latino vote – record numbers of Latinos voted in the last election. So somewhere between 10.5 and 12.5 million Latinos voted; about 10 percent of the vote is attributed to Hispanic voters. It’s expected that the eligible voting population of this segment could double within a generation. And so that’s what the focus has been on and that’s why there’s been a renewed pressure to think about changing U.S. immigration laws.

And I should point out that the last time we tried to change U.S. immigration laws in a very big way and a comprehensive way was in 2007, and that ultimately didn’t happen. And now here we are six years later having the same kind of debate but in a very new context and with much more attention to details that we didn’t have before, including, as I mentioned, this push towards a more economically-based immigration. The U.S. has really primarily admitted immigrants and – immigrants based on family ties and also – some vast majorities says 75 percent over the last couple of decades have come in on family-based visas. About 15 percent or so come in on work visas, which includes the worker plus their family members, and then another 10 percent or so come in as refugees and asylum seekers.

So we’ve got this young – the youngest of the race in ethnic groups, the Latinos/Hispanics, growing, replacing themselves even if there is no – replacing themselves as voters even if there is no more immigration, even if it stopped today. They’re projected to claim 40 percent of the growth in the electorate between now and 2030. And so the focus is squarely there. So I want to make the distinction between a population that’s growing through natural increase and a population that’s growing through immigration. This group is growing through both, but is primarily through natural increase or the number of births over the number of deaths. And then you see, as the population ages, people become eligible to vote.

Among immigrants, the other issue is naturalization and who becomes a citizen and how that affects the vote and what naturalization rates are like. And again, the focus is on this group that tends to have much lower rates of naturalization across all groups. When you have – when you group them as a whole, but of course by country of origin, it really varies.

So I think what I’ll do is – I threw out a bunch of numbers, gave you some ideas to think about, and I know you guys have questions, so feel free to ask.

QUESTION: My name is Jennie Ilustre of Malaya, Philippine News. First of all, thank you for the weather update. (Laughter.) But I know we are more interested in the political climate in 2014 and 2016.

So my question is: How will the demographic momentum that you mentioned and also the effect of comprehensive immigration reform with the growing voting power of the Hispanics and Asians – how will that affect the 2014 and 2016 elections? Thank you very much.

MS. SINGER: I think one of the things that’s really hard to predict right now is what’s going to happen with immigration reform. So I would say a couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of optimism and also a lot of pressure on Congress, on this Administration to get something done. And now with the events in Boston and a wider discussion, there’s possibly a slowing down, which may not be a bad thing. It may be that more careful discussion will yield better policy in the end.

But I think there’s political pressure as well to get reform done before the end of the summer or close to the end of the summer so that it doesn’t interfere with political races for the midterm elections next year. That’s what the political analysts are saying. And I think that is certainly an important factor, especially for candidates who are in areas where there may be a swing vote or where it may be more conservative for them. So there’s an issue on the ground. We don’t have an evenness of the voting population. The Asian or the Latino voting population tends to be geographically concentrated in certain areas, and also in certain important swing states like we saw with the last presidential election. So I think what happens with immigration reform will determine what happens going forward to those next two elections that you mentioned, and I think it remains to be seen what’s actually going to happen over the next couple of weeks.

QUESTION: Bahaa Eltawel, U.S. correspondent from OnTV channel Egypt. When you say the reforms – or you need to change the immigration laws, what do you mean by those reform? What exactly – which kind of reforms the United States need now?

MS. SINGER: Okay. So I’ll give you a brief sketch. What’s being talked about right now falls into a bunch of different categories, but just – I’ll give you the kind of big, sweeping overview. Of course, there’s enforcement issues and border security. That’s a big part of the equation, something that is always part of a package of reforms, like the one that we see now. And that includes border security aimed at our land borders, particularly the U.S.-Mexico border, but also internal enforcement issues, and that includes an employment verification system, something that doesn’t really exist right now so that employers, when they’re hiring potential employees, can check in the database to see whether they are in the U.S. legally. So that’s the big – sort of the big first bucket.

The second is a legalization program. This is being considered right now. It’s something that – I mentioned we haven’t had a legalization program since 1986. And this is – basically there are three types of people that are being considered for legalization right now. You may have heard about the DREAMers, young people who were brought to this country at a young age by adults, usually their parents who grew up in this country, who have never been present legally and are now – when they become adults are ineligible to work in the U.S., and so forth. So that’s one group that’s looked at very favorably for a legalization program.

The second group are – that are being considered are agricultural workers, people working in U.S. agriculture. Manual laborers tend to be foreign-born. A huge proportion of them tend to be working here without status. So that’s a second group. And the third is everybody else – adults, mostly, who have been in the U.S. who either arrived with a valid visa and overstayed the terms of their visa or slipped across the border undetected and have been living in the United States for any number of years.

So that’s the second big bucket. So the first one was border security and enforcement; second, legalization; and the third major set of reforms is something that people refer to as future flow. So future flow is a bunch of different things, including how to change our admissions systems, visa system. So admitting people for legal permanent residence as well as admitting people on temporary visas, how to change those laws, and eliminating the backlogs of people who have been waiting in line for a long time to get their green card but have been unable to get their green card because of per-country limits.

So there’s a lot of talk about how to change the system, and I can go into more detail about that. And then there’s a number of other issues on the table right now that have to do with very specific parts of the policy, it’s very detailed. There’s an 844-page bill that the Senate put out about two weeks ago, and that’s – that will be debated. And the House has to also bring forward their proposal as well. So I hope that helps.

So I guess the point is – the big picture – so there’s always this argument: Should we have a comprehensive set of immigration policy reforms, including all the things I just mentioned and more, or should we just work on issues piece by piece? Should we think about the high-skilled immigration component separately and what it would mean to reform that system to make it work better? Should we think about the DREAMers, the people who came here as kids who are now lacking in a pathway forward in opportunity? Should we recognize that group first as a group that’s important to this country and our future? Should we complete the fence on the border and have more resources and put our efforts there? These are all things that are being talked about individually as issues that could move forward on their own.

But the other side of the argument is if we have all of these things operating, if we fix everything at once, if we reduce the ability for people to come illegally, if we reduce the incentive for employers to hire people who are not authorized to work here, if we change the system so that our visa system better fits our economy now rather than the one that it was built on in 1990 when they changed the laws, then everything working together will systematically change in concert. So this is the trade-off: Do we have a comprehensive package that goes through, or should we work on issues item by item? And I think politically, there are arguments to do it both ways.

QUESTION: Thanks. Bariskan Unal, Turkey. You gave us some numbers about the prospect of population in 2015. If the immigration law passes and illegal immigrants can be U.S. citizens, how does affect the prospect about – in 2050 about the population prospect? And the second question is: You said that the immigrant countries is changing and still continues to change. What is your projection about this in coming 10 years? And which countries will increase – seems to increase? Thanks.

MS. SINGER: Thank you. So I think the first question is: Long-term, how will the changing composition of the U.S. affect the politics?

QUESTION: No, population. How will it change the population in 2050? Because you – in this number – I don’t think (inaudible) --

MS. SINGER: Ah.

QUESTION: -- included in this numbers, for example, you said that (inaudible) 9 percent in 2050. If, for example, immigration law passes and illegal immigrants became U.S. citizen --

MS. SINGER: Got it.

QUESTION: -- how this percentage change?

MS. SINGER: Okay. I understand. I think the two questions are related, and first of all, those numbers are the ones that I was pulling out of my head, but that actually is the right – that is the projected number, 29 percent.

So here’s the – here’s what I – here’s how I want to answer the question: When we look at the population now and we look at 2050, we have to set a bunch of assumptions, and one of the assumptions is that immigration flows won’t change that might, right? That you can change – this is sort of a moderate projection of what the composition will look like given the assumption that the flows stay the same. I don’t think we can really assume that, right? So I think that gets at your second question.

So the answer is – to the first one, sorry – is the people that are included in the model, and those projections come from the Pew Hispanic Center and they have been modeling this and are very well-respected – so they use the numbers that are available right now. And in those numbers are included the people that are in the U.S. not legally. And so they make a bunch of adjustments and think about what could happen in the future to change that.

I think once we have reform, things are going to change. The composition is going to change, but also the way we do the projections will probably change, and we’ll have to tweak the numbers somewhat. So I think given what’s on the table now and what we see with comprehensive immigration reform, I think the composition of immigrants from certain countries is going to change tremendously, and when you look at what’s being proposed – and I don’t – I’m not saying that this is going to be law, but if it were going to be law tomorrow, we see more of an emphasis on people with skills, higher skills, and higher education degrees. And that means the source countries will probably shift to countries that are producing large numbers of people who have a bachelor’s degree or more, who have certain sets of skills that fit better with those policies.

So I think over the short term, we won’t feel the impact so much, but over the longer run, we will see that change. And it also begs the question of how will that change things in other countries as well, what’s – what does this global economy hold for a more educated, more mobile workforce with different sets of admissions laws in different countries around the world? So I think that there is one thing to consider in terms of U.S. competitive position in the world economy, and that’s one of the reasons why there’s an emphasis on shifting towards higher-skilled and more economic-based visas right now.

QUESTION: Thank you. Maria Garcia with Notimex. As an expert, what is your point of view about – what arguments are the correct to treat the – to address the reform separately or as a comprehensive reform?

MS. SINGER: You’re asking what I think or --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. SINGER: -- what the arguments are?

QUESTION: No, no, no. As an expert, what could be your opinion?

MS. SINGER: I think we should try to go for comprehensive because I think it holds everything together. I think it’s very difficult to do. I think we’re up against a serious challenge. And if that fails, then we have to go the other route. But I think the advantages are that politically, you can strike a balance, and there will be bargaining chips and there will be things that are lost and things that are gained through that. But it allows us to be thoughtful in a big picture way.

One of the main things that I would like to see, if we do have a comprehensive set of reforms, is the ability for the system to be more flexible. And that’s one of the things that we don’t – we presently do not have. We don’t have a way of changing the number and type of visa that – on an annual basis. We don’t have a way of changing the kinds of requirements for coming into this country. Some of – the Senate proposal has some issues, some parts of it that build in a flexibility, and I think that’s – that would be a huge step forward. So that’s another reason to think about it comprehensively. I can dream, right? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Hi, William Marsden from Post Media News in Canada. I’m a little curious, as just an addition to the question that was asked earlier, would you be able to describe for us a little bit of the various political dynamics that are working, and whether or not this bill gets through from the Republican and the Democrat side, and how you might see them play out in the next few months?

MS. SINGER: Sure. I thought you were going to ask me about Canada. Maybe I have questions for you later. (Laughter.)

So one of the key things right now is the fact that the Senate has a proposal, and the proposal was led by eight senators. Four of them were Republicans and four of them Democrats. And it’s been a very deliberate, very public show of bipartisanship. And included in the Gang of Eight, as they’re called, is Marco Rubio, who is a new senator from Florida with Cuban roots, Cuban – he’s a Cuban American. He also has Tea Party roots, so he comes from one of the most conservative wings of the Republican Party. His presence and leadership is, to a certain extent, driving reform.

And I think it’s an important dynamic because we haven’t really seen this kind of leadership in the past. We’ve had Republicans like John McCain who is also part of the Gang of Eight change points of view, flip-flop a bit on the issues around immigration. But this is a key. So among the Senate, they were – although they were very secretive, they’re very confident that their colleagues are going to be pulled along by the diversity of the people that are leading this.

However, the real dynamic that we have to think about is what happens between the House and the Senate. And the House is Republican-controlled, is much more conservative, has very – has been pushing a very different point of view on reform. And they’ve really been vocal in terms of a couple of things: Number one, let’s not rush this through; this has to be done very carefully. Number two, we’re not necessarily going to agree with everything that the Senate has proposed. In fact, we want to dial it back a bit. We want to take a step back.

And number three, a couple of times the – one of the key negotiators in the House has said I think we might be much more interested in a piecemeal approach in getting individual bills through. So there’s a number of factors there. We have to wait to see what happens in terms of their proposal, but I expect it to be at a very different starting point, and then we’ll see what happens in the end. I don’t know if that’s the dynamic you wanted to hear about, but I hope that helps.

QUESTION: Well, I did want to ask you what – also in addition to what you’ve just said, but what do you think of the basic fears on each side that are playing out here and the political gains that can made one way or the other, or losses?

MS. SINGER: Well, I mean, to be blunt, I think the Republicans have been pretty explicit about their fear, and that is losing a big chunk of the electorate if they don’t do something about immigration reform. And so that seems to be driving this, and the evidence for that is that directly, like the day after the election, leaders not just in the U.S. Government but well-identified politically conservative Republicans who are in the media and either journalists or talk radio show hosts were very vocal about the importance of legalization in particular. And that’s a huge change. It’s a starting point that we haven’t seen in – we didn’t see in the last set of debates. So I think their – what they’re thinking is, “If we do this, we’re going to – we’ll be in better shape for the next presidential election.

The Democrats have a lot to lose because they are the ones that have been pushing for this all along, and President Obama is at the head of that. So he made promises that he wants to keep. It didn’t happen in his first term. There’s a lot of pressure right now to have that move forward. So I think that’s the pressure on that side.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you very much. My name is Li Ping from China Radio International. My question is related to culture. So you are an expert of immigration. I’d love to know your views on how the change of population structure will affect American culture. That’s the first question.

MS. SINGER: Tiny little question, right? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The second question is in immigration reform discussions, are cultural aspects important components which have affected immigration reform policies? Thank you.

MS. SINGER: Well, on culture – so the United States likes to say it’s a nation of immigrants and we’ve – our national motto, E Pluribus Unum, means “Out of Many, One.” So the ideal there is that you can be in this country and be identified with another country, another religion, many different races, religions, whatever, and you are still considered American – maybe not first, but you can be incorporated, at least culturally and ideologically. And the idea here is that you may or may not lose some of your culture along the way, but your loss is America’s gain. So the way you become incorporated is America takes a little bit of you, you give a little bit of yourself, and we move forward as this diverse and dynamic and very culturally differentiated place. So that’s the ideal.

In practice, it takes a while for people to become incorporated in this country and to figure out who they are and to figure out how they fit in. And it happens to individuals at an individual level. So we’ve got a national immigration policy, but immigrants come to this country, and yes they are coming to America, but they are moving to a particular place. And that particular place is a context where this type of social, cultural, political, economic integration takes place. And so all of this integration happens at the local level, I would argue. In fact, that’s what a lot of my work looks at: What happens in localities when immigrants come? How do things change? How do local governments and schools and hospitals and religious congregations change as a result of immigration? How does that change immigrants? How does it change neighborhoods, schools, all that stuff?

So I think it’s an imperfect but open kind of interpretation culturally. It’s not without conflict. In fact, where you see very fast-growing immigrant populations, that’s often where you see conflict. It’s not necessarily how big of a group is coming in or how diverse of a group; it’s usually how fast it’s happening. And so I like to think about that as it’s the pace, not the base. That’s my bumper sticker for you. So it’s how fast is this changing and how quickly can people, including the immigrants themselves, adapt.

And what’s interesting about the proposed legislation that just came out is there’s a whole section on immigrant integration. And it’s not been so much a part of our formal laws before, although naturalization is obviously a big part of what happens to immigrants here or not. What happens to people when they come here is very variable. And so the new law has – not the new law, the proposed law is cognizant of these processes, so there’s a section in the legislation that talks about having a national office for citizenship and integration but also local councils, local

funding streams for help through the legislation, and a bunch of other things, so recognizing that this is something that is a two-way street, that’s a process that takes place over time, and in places, in actual localities. And I think it’s an important step that we talk about this as a country and as communities. And so having it in the law allows us to kind of move that forward.

MODERATOR: New York. New York, please ask your question. New York.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Bukola Shonuga. I’m the host of African Radio Program. I’m also a producer at Global Media Productions. Thank you for this opportunity. I was just wondering, this actually feeds into your – the last question. Do you think the tragic incident – the recent tragic incident in Boston has seriously impacted the discussions on the current immigration reform? And that’s in light of this conversation out there about how someone could become an American citizen and not actually fit into American – the American system, that the system is somewhat of an isolationist system, even though you are a citizen, where you don’t – just someway just don’t feel like you fit in. And that sort of feeds into the situation in Boston right now. Would you comment on that?

MS. SINGER: Sure. The important thing here is that the Boston events are a pretty extreme set of events, and the issue of security and intelligence and those issues are intertwined with immigration, understandably, but not in the tight way in terms of what we’re discussing now in terms of immigration reform. So there’s been a big impact on the discussion. There’s been an opportunity – and I think we do need to talk about these things – to open up that issue and to understand better what happens to people in this country who don’t fit in.

My understanding of what happened with the brothers in Boston is a unique situation, and I don’t think we have all of the details. But I know that they were very much influenced by people at a young age, especially the younger brother, and this is not necessarily an immigration issue. They came with their parents and got political asylum or they were asylum seekers. There was no indication at that point that they – that these young boys – one of them was only nine years old at the time – would develop in any particular way. So yeah, there are people that come to this country and don’t fit in in many different ways. They don’t become people that want to do this country harm necessarily. A lot of people hold onto their ideals, which is another set of issues.

So I think the main impact of those events on immigration reform is that it opens up the issue for discussion. It opens up a connection between national security and immigration and sort of thinking about integration in that very particular way. But it also is an opportunity for people who would like to slow down the process or derail the discussions that we’re having now to kind of lob in there with that discussion. But I think it’s an opportunistic approach, and it’s something that we have to be careful to not equate all of that with all immigrants in this country.

MODERATOR: Last question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Inga Czerny for Polish Press Agency. Could you elaborate a little bit more on the question how immigrants vote? Because we all heard that 70 percent of Latinos voted for President Obama. But I can imagine the question is much more complicated.

MS. SINGER: Even among Latinos, it’s complicated, right? So the Cuban population, particularly the older Cuban population, are mostly Republicans. Yeah, it’s a – the – you’re not asking like what the numbers are. You’re just asking what motivates people and how do they make their decisions. So when you – when I looked at some of the polling before the election, it asked people what their primary concerns with – were and what they were looking for in a candidate. And consistently, pretty consistently across race and ethnic groups, across the foreign-born and the native-born, across places and age groups, the number one concern was the economy and jobs. And it seems like that is very consistent when you think about immigrants, because most of them are coming here to work for a better life for their children, the next generation, and all of that.


So I think to think about immigrants as a voting bloc is wrong. Very different interests underlie different groups. But even among groups I think age is a really big determining factor, and people – younger people tend to look more like younger people who were born in the United States, regardless of where they came from. So it’s a diversity of experiences that move people.

And the other thing we haven’t really talked about is naturalization rates. And they really vary by country of origin and length of time in the United States and distance from home country. It’s also related to motivations for coming to the U.S. Refugees have higher rates of naturalization, which may or may not vote – translate into voting. So there’s a complex process here in terms of how people get the vote – to vote.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you for coming. Thank you very much.

MS. SINGER: Thank you.

# # #