Immigrant Voters Speak Loud and Clear

November  3, 2010  BOSTON — As the results from the historic 2010 midterm elections are being scrutinized this morning, early analysis strongly suggests that immigrant voters in Massachusetts and across the nation raised their voices decisively against political stances that threaten the rights and well-being of the foreign-born.

 

In Massachusetts, Boston Globe figures suggest that immigrant voters rewarded Governor Deval Patrick's strong policies on immigrant integration  —  from his defense of health insurance for legal immigrants, to his commissioning of the New Americans Agenda — by bolstering his strong victory in the ten most populous cities in the state, which also have the highest immigrant residency.

Anti-immigrant rhetoric may have also played a part in Republican State Representative Jeff Perry's loss to Democrat William Keating in the race to become Congressman in the 10th District. Less than a year ago, the 10th District swung a stunning 20 percent  in favor of Republican Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate race. But unlike Brown, whose position on immigration was very low-key before his statewide election, Representative Perry has vociferously sponsored anti-immigrant legislation in the State House year after year, going so far this political season as to call for the repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees citizenship for everyone born on U.S. soil. As WBUR reports, Perry's electoral hopes were finally crushed last night when results arrived from Quincy, which boasts a foreign-born population of over 25 percent, the heaviest in the district. Perry lost Quincy by over 60 percent of the vote.

Similar effects can be seen across the nation, such as in the bitterly fought Nevada Senate race. Despite early prognostications, the seat was recaptured handily by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has worked hard for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. His opponent, Sharon Angle, ran anti-immigrant ads that raised protests from statewide Latino organizations, and she was perceived to be the prime beneficiary of a notorious media campaign to suppress the Latino vote. As Edward Schumacher-Matos writes in the Washington Post, "The Latino vote came out --- 12 percent of the vote -- and Reid received an extraordinary 90 percent of it, according to estimates by LatinoDecisions, the only poll that specifically tracked Latinos. Reid would have lost handily to Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle without that lopsided support."

Similar results can be seen across the nation, from the California Governor's race — which may have hinged on the losing candidate's firing of her undocumented-immigrant maid  — to state house races in Maryland — where Latino candidates made impressive inroads.

Across the nation, immigrant advocates today celebrated these triumphs, but they also extended congratulations to ALL newly elected officials. It was a sentiment echoed by gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker in his concession speech, when he recognized that all the candidates would have worked to keep Massachusetts "a great state to raise a family and live in."

"Though we heartily congratulate the winners last night, from Governor Patrick to the many newly elected state representatives, we agree completely with the heartfelt and extraordinarily gracious sentiments expressed by Charlie Baker," says Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). "In the coming year, we will work alongside every public servant in the state and nation with his sentiments foremost in our minds."