The immigration campaign: on the roads and during the elections

This article is part of the HPR Massachusetts Election Guide and represents the author’s independent view.

“I did it for a better life” – the common words spoken by immigrants on their journey to America. While people may choose to immigrate for a variety of reasons, such as job opportunities, escaping violence, and education, one reason is certain: people are becoming Americans — and with that, they take on the civic responsibility to vote.

There is no doubt that the political power of immigrants increases every year. In just 20 years, the number of eligible immigrant voters has almost double from 12 million in 2000 to more than 23 million by 2020. This phenomenon raises the following question: to what extent do immigrants influence election results? The answer is heavy, especially in large states. immigrant populations like Massachusetts. With that in mind, candidates running in the 2022 Massachusetts gubernatorial general election must appeal to immigrant voters in order to experience the greatest election-related success.

It’s no secret that the best way to get votes for immigrants is to advocate for policies that support and benefit immigrants. In Massachusetts today, the number one immigrant-related question on the ballot is Question No. 4, a referendum that asks voters to approve or repeal the new law that allows all qualified residents to state, regardless of immigration status, to be issued Massachusetts driver’s licenses. Issue 4, the Work and Family Mobility Act, supports safer roads and safer drivers, as it requires all drivers to meet the same insurance standards and enables all families to use routes to get to work, drop the kids off at school and get to the hospital. appointment. Although these benefits do not appear to be a luxury for most, immigrants barely use public benefits over the general public, despite being taxpayers. In order to allow immigrants, with or without documentation, to feel secure about their access to American infrastructure, Massachusetts driver’s license law must be respected.

For Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey, supporting undocumented residents’ eligibility to apply for a driver’s license is a priority in its actions to defend immigrant communities. She, along with the rest of the MassDems and progressive groups like the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, believe this is a “common sense” right.

In her work as Attorney General, Healey has already contributed to these measures, notably by addressing language barriers that put immigrants at risk of fraudulent practices in immigration law. Scammers lure immigrants with false promises of obtaining visas, green cards and citizenship in exchange for money. In an effort to protect Massachusetts immigrants from these scams, Healey’s Multilingual Education Campaign, first launched in 2018 by the Attorney General’s Community Engagement Division, provides those at risk with information about these predatory practices through public service announcements, social media posts and in person. coaching.

Healey is leading the way in securing immigrant votes in the upcoming general election with his other candidates immigrant policies, such as expanding language access, health care coverage, and facilitating accessible and meaningful pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Together, these existing initiatives and promised policies speak volumes about the more than 1.2 million immigrants living in Massachusetts, giving Healey a clear advantage over his opponent, Republican candidate Geoff Diehl.

Regarding question #4, Geoff Diehl and the rest of the MassGOP are strongly in favor of the repeal of the law, confirmed by his campaign. Tweeter that the approval of the ballot question was “wonderful news.” For Diehl, allowing undocumented immigrants to hold driver’s licenses puts Massachusetts’ public safety, public health and electoral integrity at risk. Together with Diehl, MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons, the main contributor to the Recent trumpification of the party, continues to defend these anti-immigration measures. Earlier this year, Lyons and Diehl joined campaign organizers at a signature-raising event to put Question No. 4 on the ballot, which Lyons said was “democracy in action.” Additionally, Diehl is a firm believer in getting tough on the issue of illegal immigration and is advocating for similar positions from the federal government. While Diehl focuses his argument on undocumented people, his message is nevertheless exclusive and therefore potentially unwelcoming to more than undocumented immigrants.

In a heavily blue state where immigrants make up nearly 20% of the population, this trumpified rhetoric from Diehl and the MassGOP is unlikely to win enough support to win the election. While a number of factors are at play, the fact is that Healey currently stalls 26 points ahead of its competitor. Her appeal and her promises to the immigrant community in Massachusetts will surely contribute to her success as Election Day approaches. On November 8, 2022, as immigrants head to the polls, many will vote for a candidate with their shared priorities – someone who tirelessly champions the cause of immigrants.

Image by Allaura Osborne created for use by Harvard Political Review.

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