How Many New Voters Would S.744 Create?

Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, October 2013

Based on projections published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), we estimate that if S.744 were to become law it will add more than 17 million new potential voting-age citizens by 2036. These new potential voters are in addition to the nearly 15 million that the current level of legal immigration will add by 2036. Combined, current immigration plus the effects of S.744 would add more than 32 million potential new voting-age citizens by 2036. To place these figures in perspective, the last four presidential elections were decided by 4.5 million votes on average.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Based on the CBO’s analysis of S.744, we project that the bill will add 4.6 million new potential voters above the number added by the current level of legal immigration by 2024. The bill would add 9.5 million potential voters by 2028 and 17.3 million by 2036.
  • Of the new potential voters S.744 would create by 2036, slightly more than one-third would be a result of the bill’s amnesty provisions based on CBO projections, the rest are due to the bill’s large increases in future legal immigration.
  • Even without the effects of S.744, the current level of immigration will add 5.1 million new potential voting-age citizens to the country by 2024, 8.4 million by 2028, and 14.9 million by 2036.
  • Combined, the current level of immigration plus the additions from S.744 would create nearly 10 million potential voting-age citizens by 2024, and more than 32 million by 2036.
  • The 32 million potential voters current immigration plus S.744 will create is slightly larger than the number of Americans over age 65 who voted in 2012. It is more than twice the number of veterans who voted in 2012, and nearly three times the number of Hispanics who voted last year.
  • For legal permanent immigrants to be potential voters they must be at least 18 years old and have lived in the country for at least five years, allowing them to naturalize. For most amnesty beneficiaries under S.744, it will take at least a decade for them to naturalize.
  • These projections are only for potential immigrant voters, not their U.S.-born children. The projections take into account deaths, return-migration, and residency requirements to naturalize. We do not estimate the share that will actually naturalize and vote once eligible to do so.

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The Combined Impact. Adding the numbers from S.744 to the number from current immigration means that future immigration, and the legalization provisions of S.744, would create 9.7 million potential new voters by 2024, 17.9 million by 2028, 25 million by 2032, and 32.2 million by 2036. None of the results in the figure should be too surprising. The current level of immigration is already very high. In addition, S.744 offers legal status to millions of illegal immigrants and dramatically increases the level of legal immigration in the future. Although it has not received much attention during the current debate, these projections demonstrate that one of the biggest and unavoidable potential effects of immigration generally and S.744 in particular is a steady and profound remaking of the political landscape.

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