Immigration is changing the racial makeup of the United States. 17% of American citizens are of Hispanic descent. Most of these are from Mexico and many are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. Hispanics are also the fastest growing minority and, even if there were to be no further immigration, they would still be expected to account for 30% of the US population by 2030.
A further 5% of citizens, about 15,000,000 people, is of Asian descent and this minority too is growing faster than the general population.
There are 12.2m foreign born people living in the US as permanent residents with 'green cards'. There are also 15.1m people living in the US who were born abroad and are naturalised US citizens.
The Pew research, which is based on analysis of the 2011 US census, shows that there are also 11.1m illegal immigrants living in the US. 55% of these are Mexicans. A further 25% are from the rest of Latin America. There are also about 1.1m (10%) illegal immigrants who are from Asia.
Some illegal immigrants are calling for all those who are living in the US illegally to be given citizenship. The Define American campaign is run by Antonio Vargas who is from the Philippines and has been in the US illegally since 1993. He says that his campaign raises 'the question about how we as a nation define who is an American….We can't tread water on this issue anymore.'
Such a move would have enormous reverberations in the US. Not only would it increase the Hispanic share of the population to about 20% immediately it would also affect the balance between Republicans and Democrats during presidential and other elections. At the last presidential election, 71% of Hispanics voted for President Obama's Democratic Party as did 73% of Asian Americans.
Many pollsters believe that the President won the election because of the anti-illegal stance taken by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. They speculate that Hispanics and Asians were put off Mr Romney by his support for the 'self-deportation' policy which he endorsed during his campaign. This policy involves making life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they would leave the country of their own free will.
If the illegal population was given citizenship this would increase the US population by a further 3%, most of whom would be entitled to vote. Most of those, if the figures are to be believed, would vote Democrat.
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