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The Power of 14 Million

Immigrants join new voter drives


Imagine for a second that 14 million more people turned out to vote during the last presidential election. Those 14 million could have made a big difference. But they didn't, because they aren't counted as citizens, despite living and working in the United States. That's why the We Are America Alliance, a nationwide coalition of labor, faith, and immigrant rights groups launched a campaign titled "Democracy Summer" last weekend, in an attempt to bring more people to the polls.

The group, along with the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN), aimed to dramatically increase the number of registered voters in immigrant and minority communities. Step one of this effort included assisting eligible immigrants with processing their citizenship applications.

"A lot of people call this country their home, and they want to give back to their community," said Fernando Mejia, ICAN board member. "They want to have a voice on the table." An ICAN report titled, "Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote: The Untapped Power of Over 14 million Potential New Immigrants Voters," notes that if the immigrant population were properly engaged, they could decide the fate of upcoming national elections. An estimated 30,000 immigrants in Idaho are eligible to naturalize this year. "In pretty close elections, they can make a difference," Mejia said. "They're going to vote for who will represent them." The Nampa event brought about 100 people out to start the paperwork that could lead them to a poll booth. Most of the applicants came from the Treasure Valley area. "Immigrant community members are here to stay. Immigration is an American experience," Mejia said.