Advocacy group: Naturalized citizens could swing battleground states in 2020

Immigrants who have recently become U.S. citizens could play a decisive role next year in states where President Trump won by slim margins in the 2016 election, according to one nonpartisan advocacy group.

An analysis conducted by the New American Leaders (NAL) found that naturalized citizens make up hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in key presidential swing states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania. NAL is geared toward helping immigrants, women and other underrepresented Americans get into public office and exercise their voting rights.

“There is the ability in Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania in particular right now with the existing number of registered naturalized citizens to change the outcome of the election in one direction or another,” Sayu Bhojwani, who is the founder and president of NAL, told Hill.TV.

“We also know that if we’re engaging naturalized citizens who are not yet registered in other places like Arizona, for example, or in Florida they can actually make up the margin of victory,” she added. 

The group’s study estimates that there are 64,000 newly naturalized citizens in Michigan, which Trump won by roughly 10,000 votes.

But Bhojwani lamented that naturalized citizens, particularly Asian-American and Latino voters, are one of the most overlooked voting demographics in the country.

“Asian-American and Latino voters and other new Americans tend to given short shrift in the conversation between the Rust Belt and the Sun Belt and what we are suggesting is that there is a both/and strategy,” she told Hill.TV. “You can reach Rust Belt voters and Sun Belt voters — some of whom are new Americans but that you can also expand the electorate.”

Bhojwani’s comments come as the Democratic presidential primary heats up.

The 2020 contest saw its highest-profile exit yet on Tuesday as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced her departure from the race.

Her decision came after months of reports of internal struggles and the inability to sufficiently fund her campaign. Shortly before dropping out, Harris was averaging 3.4 percent support, according to the RealClearPolitics polling index.

—Tess Bonn

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