Newly Naturalized Citizens Could Swing Key Midterm Elections, Says Report

Jul 20, 2022
3:56 PM

A naturalization ceremony at the Grand Canyon in Arizona (Grand Canyon NPS/CC BY 2.0)

HOUSTON — On Wednesday the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) held a joint press conference in Houston, Texas to announce the New American Voters 2022 campaign alongside a report showcasing how the collective voting power of newly naturalized citizens can impact the 2022 midterm elections.

“Just as working people voted in record numbers in 2020 to bring about change, New American Voters will lead the charge in November to reject the cynical politics of Trump et al, build a government that works for all of us, and secure the American Dream,” SEIU Texas president Elsa Caballero said in a statement.

Highlighting how the rapidly growing voting bloc of close to 5.2 million newly naturalized citizens is multi-racial, multi-generational, and mostly women, the report also focuses on the 4.4 million who became naturalized in response to the anti-immigrant rhetoric that was central to the Republican Party’s platform.

The findings are based on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ naturalization data from 2016 to 2020, including naturalization applications the agency approved in 2021.

“At a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are spreading like wildfire in our country, the new American voters can uplift their voices and determine the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections in politically important states, which could influence who will control U.S. Congress in 2023,” said Nicole Melaku, NPNA’s new executive director.

According to the report, almost 90 percent of newly naturalized citizens from 2016 to 2020 are originally from the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Over 43 percent of newly naturalized citizens are from Latin America, over 37 percent are from Asia and Pacific Island countries, and those from African and European countries represent just under 10 percent.

Women make up a slight majority, at 55.5 percent.

Newly naturalized citizens are also multigenerational, with roughly one-third (31.7 percent) between the ages of 18 to 34 years old, over one-third (36.9 percent) between 35 to 49 years old, and nearly one-third (31.4 percent) 50 years old or older.

The New American Voters 2022 campaign plans to lead an intentional effort to engage a subset of voters of color.

“Newly naturalized citizens constitute a formidable voting bloc. Voter mobilization efforts specifically targeting these voters are thus needed in order for their votes to be cast,” read a press release. “Recognizing their electoral power, NPNA and SEIU, along with its member organizations and national partners, are pivoting to mobilize newly naturalized citizens to increase voter registration efforts and turnout rates.”

The report also highlights to the top 10 states with the largest number of newly naturalized citizens. California leads the way with 733,756, followed by Florida (429,017), New York (402,904), Texas (343,799), New Jersey (177,890), Illinois (127,720), Massachusetts (120,403), Virginia (101,190), Georgia (96,469), and Maryland (89,165).

“This campaign strategically targets newly naturalized citizens, especially in states where they reside in large numbers, to encourage them to get out to vote and exercise their democratic rights,” the press release said.

The New American Voters campaign intends to use multiple approaches including digital, social media platforms, and partnerships with mayors and counties to reach newly naturalized citizens.

The press conference focused on unity between the Black and Latino communities and touched on issues such as immigration and criminal justice reform.

“If they vote, newly naturalized citizens can sway outcomes in upcoming elections in politically important states like Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Florida, among others,” said the report.

“The number of newly naturalized citizens from 2016 to 2020 is larger than the margins of victory for the 2020 presidential election in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” according to its findings.


Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American, anti-racist, journalist, and the publisher of The Antagonist magazine. Twitter: @ExtremeArturo