With this year’s tight and controversial presidential race, and with anti-immigrant sentiment at a peak, we can take nothing for granted. This is why I am urgently calling to those among New York City’s more than 1.5 million naturalized citizens, if you are registered to vote, to go to the polls on November 8. Every single vote counts.
The right to vote is not a given. Some of you have experienced undemocratic governments in places where voting is riddled with fraud, doesn’t happen at all or can put you at risk of reprisals. But as a U.S. citizen, your right to vote ensures your participation in the democratic process that gives you a voice in the decisions that shape your life.
The electorate has never been so ethnically and racially diverse. According to a Pew Research Center 2016 report, this year 31 percent of the eligible voters are Hispanic, Asian, black or other minorities. In New York City, the Campaign Finance Board confirms that naturalized citizens lead in the gains made in voter registration, and their turnout rates equal or outpace native-born citizens. Yet, New York City hit a historic low in overall voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections, when barely 20 percent went to the polls. This has to change.
It is important we understand what is at stake here.
In 2013, immigrant workers accounted for $257 billion in economic activity — that’s nearly one third of the value of all finished goods and services produced here. Immigrants represent almost half of the City’s workforce. Over 80 percent of dishwashers, nannies, garment workers and taxi drivers are immigrants. Seventy percent of medical and life scientists; 60 percent of civil engineers; 58 percent of registered nurses; and more than half of our dentists, mechanical engineers, tax preparers, and pharmacists are foreign-born. And one in four CEOs in corporations with a presence in our City are immigrants. Clearly, the economic contribution to the City is tremendous.
So, casting your vote could be a YES to protecting the economic investment made for your children and their children, and to ensuring an enduring opportunity to work. A YES to keeping the doors open for others like you, who want a better life, and whose enterprise keeps our City and this country vibrant and growing. And a YES to protect the right to educate your children, without fear, who will carry on our immigrant tradition.
Your vote could also be a NO to racism, discrimination and hate.
It’s time to rally family, friends, and community members to vote. Remember your vote can help speak for those who are not eligible to go to the polls in November, but whose investment and commitment to their American life is just as strong as yours.
For information about your polling site and ballots in languages other than English go to http://vote.nyc.ny.us/html/forms/forms.shtml, or call the Board of Elections office in your borough.