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Experts: Candidates Ignore New Swing Voters at Their Own Risk

October 15, 2008

New York, NY — Immigrant voters could play a key role in November's election. Exit polls show that in 2006, two-thirds of all new voters in New York City were immigrants. Latinos and non-native-born Americans are critical swing voters who could decide the election but are virtually ignored by both parties, according to Chung-Wha Hong with the New York Immigration Coalition.

"We are the sleeping giant, the new 'soccer moms.' The immigrant vote is under-appreciated, and immigrant voters are now demanding answers and questioning leadership."

Demonstrators will be outside the presidential debate site at Hofstra University on Long Island tonight to protest the candidates' lack of attention to immigrant issues. Both major candidates support immigration reform. Barack Obama favors more rights for workers, but on the campaign trail both candidates have been largely silent regarding immigration.

Pat Young, program director of the Central American Refugee Center, argues that because the presidential debate is being held in the largest suburban immigrant community in the nation, it should include a discussion of important issues like immigration reform.

"While more than 400,000 immigrants live on Long Island, they aren't the only ones touched by immigration. Virtually all Americans are concerned -- not only about issues of security, but also about how immigration benefits the economy."

Young says the latest numbers indicate that one out of every seven Long Islanders is an immigrant.

Michael Clifford/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY