It’s hard to turn on a television or log on to the internet without being bombarded by political ads – its election season! Politicians and their supporters are vying for our attention and our vote. The general rule is whoever gets the most votes wins. Yet immigrant voters—a significant and growing voice due to increased naturalization rates—have been consistently overlooked, as well as the issues that matter most to them, including the reform of our immigration system.

A recent report released by the Immigration Policy Center demonstrates the rapidly rising number of “New American” voters. The New American voter, defined as a naturalized U.S. citizen or the child born to an immigrant in the U.S. since 1965, accounted for 1 in 10 registered voters in the U.S. in 2008, a whopping 15 million voters. Of those 15 million registered voters, 5.7 million of them were the children of immigrants. It seems clear to most that to win elections you must appeal to the electorate, yet this particular group of voters is being ignored and underestimated.

Looking to the future, it is important to note that the number of New American voters will continue to increase—and these voters, of course, include our children. Children of immigrants now comprise 1 in 4 of all children, and 86 percent are U.S. born citizens. This increasingly politically active population, several of whom are approaching their 18th birthday, will soon have the power to decide elections. And as they pick and choose between candidates, they will remember how their immigrant parents and non-citizen siblings were treated by politicians and their political party. Those hoping to gain or stay in power need to pay close attention to how they talk about and vote on priority issues for the immigrant community, like the DREAM Act.

For more information on new American voters:

Immigration Policy Center’s new report: New American Electorate