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New Study Points to Illinois Immigrant Power in Midterm Election

October 11, 2010

CHICAGO - Immigrants in Illinois hold a considerable amount of voting clout, according to a new census study to to be released Thursday by the Immigration Policy Center in Washington.

Wendy Sefsaf, with the American Immigration Council, says the study found more than six million voters registered in Illinois, and one in ten of those voters is either an immigrant or a child of an immigrant. That's well over a half-million potential voters, and Sefsaf says they could be a powerful force - if they get out and cast ballots on election day next month.

"Absolutely. I mean when ten percent of all registered voters in Illinois are immigrants or the children of immigrants, they certainly have a big political muscle that they can begin to use."

Sefsaf says studies showed that immigrants did have a big impact on the last Presidential election.

"So we know that they can actually swing elections in key districts and in key states."

Some pundits have said that the young people who voted in large numbers for President Obama have turned apathetic, but 18-year-old Marlene Perez says she's not. Her parents have not missed an election since becoming citizens, and she says she's ready to cast her ballot.

"It feels wonderful and I'm actually excited to go out and vote for the very first time on November 2."

Perez has been knocking on doors in her neighborhood trying to convince her neighbors of how important it is to stay involved.

"My parents, before they received their citizenship, they always wanted to go out and vote. They're very happy and surprised that I got involved in this."

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has launched a non-partisan mobilization project to encourage all new Americans make their voices heard on November 2.


Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL