Record number of naturalized U.S. citizens eligible to vote in 2020 election, study finds

A record number of naturalized citizens are eligible to vote in the next presidential election, recent data published by the Pew Research Center shows.

About 23 million immigrants could cast ballots in 2020, comprising approximately 10 percent of the electorate, according to Pew. Both numbers are all-time highs.

The study found that:

"Growth in the foreign-born eligible voter population reflects two broad U.S. population trends. First, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has increased steadily since 1965, when the Immigration and Nationality Act became law. Then, the nation's 9.6 million immigrants made up just 5 percent of the population. Today, 45 million immigrants live in the country, accounting for about 13.9 percent of the population. Most are either from Latin America or Asia.

Second, a rising number and share of immigrants living in the U.S. have naturalized in recent years. Between 2009 and 2019, 7.2 million immigrants naturalized and became citizens, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In fiscal year 2018 alone, more than 756,000 immigrants naturalized."

Pew defines eligible "immigrant voters" as those who are 18 and older born outside the United States who have gained U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

Other key notes from the Pew study include:

  • The states with the largest number of eligible immigrant voters in the 2020 election are California (5.5 million), New York (2.5 million), Florida (2.5 million) and Texas (1.8 million). Combined, they total more than half of the United States eligible immigrant voter population (56 percent).
  • Georgia, Minnesota and North Carolina have the fastest growing immigrant electorate. The number of eligible immigrant voters in all three states "nearly tripled," at minimum, from 2000-18.
  • The total number of eligible immigrant voters has increased by 93 percent since 2000.
  • About 66 percent of eligible immigrant voters have lived in the United States for at least 20 years while 63 percent are "proficient in English."

The 2020 general election is set to be held Tuesday, Nov. 3 and will pit Republican President Donald Trump against a Democratic challenger, along with potential third-party candidates. In order to be eligible to vote, a Lawful Permanent Resident must naturalize and become a U.S. citizen.

The complete requirements for naturalization, in most cases, are:

  • Lawful Permanent Resident status for five years (three years if the applicant is married to a U.S. Citizen)
  • Continuous residency in the United States for the last five years
  • Continuous residence in the United States from the date of filing to the date of adjudication
  • Physical presence in the U.S. for at least half of the last five years (30 months, or 18 months if married to a U.S. Citizen and applying after three years)
  • Good moral character
  • Residency in the state or USCIS district where you apply for at least three months prior to filing
  • Basic knowledge of English and U.S. Civics

Registration deadlines for the 2020 election vary on a state-by-state basis, with most coming by mid-October.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm by phone at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions about naturalization or other immigration matters.

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