Although everyone is talking about the presidential election this year, I am much more excited about the role of immigrants in the politics of 2012. It’s not a year like 2009 when we waited anxiously for a new president and Congress to create a sensible solution for immigration reform. Those hopes are long gone. They have been replaced by new fears aroused by draconian laws that emerged from Alabama, Arizona and Georgia.
Latino and Asian voters will be able to go to the polls in increased numbers because of two new developments. First, the 2010 Census confirmed that demographics had changed enough in 248 jurisdictions that they “must provide language assistance during elections for groups who are unable to speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process.” One-third of the country’s citizen-age voting population lives in those parts of the country mandated by Section 243 of the Voting Rights Act to provide ballots, signs and interpretation in languages as diverse as Spanish and Hindi.